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IPFS News Link • Coup

PALACE COUP Watch as furious protesters storm palace and take dip in presidential...

•, Imogen Braddick

THIS is the shocking moment hundreds of furious protesters stormed Iraq's government palace after months of political unrest.

Violence erupted in the capital of Baghdad on Monday after rioters tore down the Republican Palace gates and barged into the building.

The protests came after influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he was quitting politics for good - sparking fury from thousands of his loyal followers.

Demonstrators were seen taking a dip in the pool inside the palace - a building inside the capital's fortified Green Zone which houses government compounds and embassies.

Protesters lounged in armchairs in meeting rooms, while others waved Iraqi flags and snapped photographs of themselves.

But the riot turned violent as Iraq's military reportedly opened fire to disperse the huge crowds and take back control of the area.

A nationwide curfew for civilians and vehicles has been announced, starting from 7pm local time on Monday.

Security forces fired tear gas at protesters at the entrance to the heavily fortified government zone as dozens of young men hurled stones at each other in street battles.