Baghdad: To mark a "Day of Rage" thousands took to the streets across Iraq on Friday as police gunned down seven protesters and wounded dozens, as security forces imposed a vehicle ban.

Most of the protesters at the Tahrir square, which shares the name of the central Cairo site where Egyptians rallied to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, were young men, with some holding placards that read, "No silence, we must speak".

"We don't want to change the government, because we elected them, but we want them to get to work!" said Darghan Adnan, a 24-year-old student said. "We want them to enforce justice, we want them to fix the roads, we want them to fix the electricity, we want them to fix the water."

More protesters were streaming into the area on the banks of the Tigris river, forced to walk after authorities belatedly imposed a vehicle ban on Baghdad and several other Iraqi cities.

"I came by foot from Sadr City (east Baghdad) – it took me two hours, but I decided to come because I want the government to change the situation," said Shashef Shenshun, 48 years old and unemployed.

Though most of the protests were largely peaceful, clashes between security forces and demonstrators at rallies in the northern city of Mosul and the town of Hawija left seven dead and dozens wounded, while separate rallies in north and west Iraq left a total of eight others injured.

In the capital, troops and police were deployed in force at Tahrir Square, where around 5,000 demonstrators had gathered, and security forces erected concrete blast walls to block entrance to Jumhuriyah bridge, which connects the demonstration site to Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone.

Protesters nevertheless managed to overturn two of the walls, with some of them attempting to cross the bridge which was quickly dealt by anti-riot police.

Iraqi MP Sabah al-Saadi attempted to meet with a group of the demonstrators but was met with shouts and jeers upon his arrival, with one protester asking, "Why are MPs taking millions of dinars in salary?"

"You have to cut your salary - we have nothing! Why are you taking so much money when we have no money?"

Friday's rally, in keeping with similar protests across the region, has largely been organised on social networking website Facebook by groups such as "Iraqi Revolution of Rage" and "Change, Liberty and a Real Democracy."

(Agencies)