(AP) Witnesses say hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Iraqi cities to protest lawmakers' perks despite an intense security crackdown.
Organizers say the aim of Saturday's protests is to demand an end to generous pension benefits granted to members of parliament, although demonstrators also voiced long-standing grievances about the poor state of public services.
Authorities in Baghdad refused to permit demonstrations there. They put in place extraordinary security measures, such as blocking bridges and deploying large numbers of rifle-toting soldiers and police in major squares.
Iraqi authorities cracked down firmly on anti-government protests the erupted at the start of the Arab Spring in early 2011. A new wave of ongoing protests against the Shiite-led government erupted in Sunni Muslim areas in December.