Tags: Iraq | elections | attack | vote

Attacks Mar First Day of Iraq Vote

Thursday, 04 Mar 2010 10:50 AM

BAGHDAD — Iraq opened its polls early on Thursday for tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers and other security workers, but a series of attacks in Baghdad aimed directly at them marred the first day of voting in the country’s parliamentary elections.

Iraqi security forces at the site of one of the series of bombings on Wednesday in the city of Baquba northeast of Bagdhad.

The attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more, according to preliminary reports from Iraqi officials.

The attacks occurred despite the overwhelming presence of Iraqi security personnel on the streets in Baghdad and in cities across the country. The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who faces a fierce contest to win a second term, declared a holiday from Thursday to Sunday, allowing security officials to vote early so they would be free to work on Election Day.

Two suicide bombers struck two different polling stations at schools in the center of Baghdad, killing seven soldiers and wounding at least 35 other people.

Those attacks followed another involving a hidden bomb, which struck a school in northern Baghdad. That school will also be a polling station on Sunday, but early voting was not taking place on Thursday. That blast killed at least five people and wounded 22.

Iraqi official and United States commanders have braced for violence, imposing strict controls on vehicles and cordoning off entire streets around polling sites. Thursday’s attacks made it clear there are still gaps in security, but on the streets of Baghdad, where lines of soldiers and police officers formed as soon as voting began at 7 a.m., there was also a sense of defiance.

“The last two or three months we’ve been receiving warnings about violence around the elections,” a senior federal police commander said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of orders from the Ministry of the Interior.

“And we know that even after the elections, until they form a government, we have to worry about attacks.” He received a text message on his telephone about the first bombing and then vowed not to let violence disrupt the election, which is widely viewed a pivotal moment in Iraq’s history seven years after the American invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

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BAGHDAD — Iraq opened its polls early on Thursday for tens of thousands of soldiers and police officers and other security workers, but a series of attacks in Baghdad aimed directly at them marred the first day of voting in the country’s parliamentary elections.
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2010-50-04
Thursday, 04 Mar 2010 10:50 AM
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