Protesters carrying Iraqi flags and placards written in English,  which read "You have given a bad impression of America", gathered at the Abu Ghuraib prison, infamous among Iraqis for torture stories since US-led forces occupied their country last year.

"Abu Ghuraib, witness of American savagery," said one banner. "US Army go home. Your families are waiting for you - this country is for Iraqis," said another.

Fears of similar fate

Images released last week of US troops abusing Iraqis in the jail have inflamed sentiment against the US-led occupation of the country. And left Washington scrambling to repair its image ahead of a formal handover of sovereignty seen by many in the country as a bid by the US occupation to legitimately disguise its presence. 

Iraqis queue to look for their
relatives  in Abu Ghuraib 

Relatives of thousands of Abu Ghuraib prisoners demanded they be set free immediately, fearing their sons and relatives would suffer the same atrocities.

Some said the images of soldiers forcing Iraqis to pose nude and simulate sex acts would draw retribution.

The CPA says there are 10,000 Iraqis held by US-led troops, but Iraqis argue that the number is much higher.

In January, Dr Harith al-Dhari, secretary-general of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMS), told Aljazeera.net: "The number of Iraqi prisoners held by US-led occupation forces is much higher than they claim. There are tens of thousands."

Revenge

"They have taken five of my children. It's a crime," screamed one woman at a checkpoint outside the prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad, surrounded by blast barriers, razor wire and US machine-gun posts atop the walls.

"These acts demand revenge and we hold you completely responsible," said a representative of the AMS, which has been involved in organising regular protests demanding the release of Iraqi detainees.

The US military, which has acknowledged at least two Iraqi detainees have been murdered by soldiers or contractors, has put a general who once ran its Guantanamo Bay prison camp in charge of reforming Iraq's military jails.