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Iraq government to arm citizens to fight militants: PM

The Iraqi government will provide weapons and equipment to citizens who volunteer to fight against militants, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday.

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government will provide weapons and equipment to citizens who volunteer to fight against militants, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Tuesday.

Maliki, in a statement broadcast on state television, said the cabinet has "created a special crisis cell to follow up on the process of volunteering and equipping and arming".

The cabinet "praises the willingness of the citizens and the sons of the tribes to volunteer and carry weapons... to defend the homeland and defeat terrorism," he said.

Maliki said the cabinet also decided to "restructure and reorganise" the security forces, and to ask parliament to "announce a state of emergency."

State television later reported that parliament had received a joint request from Maliki and the president's office to declare a state of emergency -- the procedure laid down in the constitution.

Militants have taken control of a swathe of northern territory including the city of Mosul, the latest in a series of major operations launched in five different provinces in recent days that have killed scores of people.

Violence is running at its highest levels since 2006-2007, when tens of thousands were killed in sectarian conflict between Iraq's Shiite majority and Sunni Arab minority.

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