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Iraqi defense minister says missile fell near military base, no damage

CAIRO (Reuters) – Iraqi Defense Minister Najah al-Shammari said on Tuesday a missile fell near a military base hosting U.S. forces north of Baghdad but caused no damage.

Shammari inspected the sprawling Taji base to see the security situation there, accompanied by the army aviation commander and senior officers from the defense ministry, Iraq’s news agency said.

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“Camp Taji is witnessing security stability and there is no damage,” he said in a statement. Shammari stressed the need for caution to preserve the safety of all those in the camp.

A curfew was declared in Baghdad on Monday after four people were killed and 277 wounded in the fourth day of anti-government protests. Medical and security sources said security forces fired tear gas canisters directly at protesters.

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Baghdad’s top military commander declared the curfew because of the unrest, which is driven by discontent over economic hardship and deep-seated corruption.

Populist Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who backs parliament’s most powerful bloc and helped bring Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to power, called for early elections after the curfew was announced.

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Demonstrators vowed to remain in the square despite the curfew, which they said would provide cover for security forces to attempt to clear it.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Editing by Sandra Maler and Paul Tait)

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