Shiite rally marks anniversary of fall of Baghdad

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Tens of thousands of supporters of an anti-U.S. Shiite cleric demanded an end to the U.S. military presence Thursday and burned effigy of ex-President George W. Bush in a rally marking the sixth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to American forces.

Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had urged all Iraqis to turn out for the protest at Firdous Square _ where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled on April 9, 2003. Protesters set fire to Bush's effigy as it hung from the pillar where Saddam's statue once stood.

The demonstration coincides with an uptick in bombings of Shiite targets around the city, undermining public confidence in Iraq's army and police. At least 53 people have been killed in bombings in Shiite areas of Baghdad this week.

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