Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 12:05 UK

Iraq bans visits to Saddam grave

Iraqi schoolgirls visit the tomb of Saddam Hussein (2008 image)
Local schools would often organise trips to visit the site

The Iraqi government has banned all organised visits to the grave of former leader Saddam Hussein.

Hussein, hanged in 2006 after being convicted for crimes against humanity, is buried in his home village.

Loyalists still regularly visit the site of the grave in Awja, where he is buried alongside his two sons.

The government took the decision after schools near his former stronghold arranged trips for their pupils to visit the site.

In a statement, the government said it had sent instructions to the education ministry and local authorities banning them from organising visits to the tomb of the former president.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse, in Baghdad, says the tomb - near Saddam Hussein's former stronghold of Tikrit - remains a place of pilgrimage for his supporters.

Thousands have visited the site since his execution on 30 December 2006.

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