Iraq's government has banned all organized visits to Saddam Hussein's grave in the village of Ouja, the dictator's birth place north of Baghdad.

A cabinet statement says instructions have been sent to the Education Ministry and local authorities in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit to take the necessary steps to stop such visits.

The Monday statement said the ban followed a recent trip to the grave by school girls from Tikrit. Ouja is just outside Tikrit, capital of Salahuddin province.

Since he was hanged in December 2006, thousands of Saddam's supporters, including school children, have been visiting his grave to mark the anniversaries of his birth and hanging. Visitors often chant slogans in his support.