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Iraqi Vice President Barred From Traveling Abroad

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi
Iraq's Supreme Court has banned Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi from traveling abroad.

Hashimi and Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlak, both Sunnis and members of the secular Al-Iraqiyah bloc, have come under increasing pressure, with three of the vice president's bodyguards arrested and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calling for Mutlak to be dismissed.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said three of Hashimi's bodyguards were arrested for "suspected terrorist activity" on December 17.

Earlier the same day, the Al-Iraqiyah bloc said it was boycotting parliament in protest over what it called the prime minister's monopolization of power.

The following day, Maliki called for Mutlak to be ousted.

Lawmakers are due to consider the request on January 3.

The allegations come amid fears of deterioration in the security situation now that U.S. troops have left the country.

compiled from agency reports