Iraqis vote amid deadly attacks

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* From Al Jazeera English *

Iraqis have begun voting in their second full parliamentary elections since the 2003 US-led invasion against a backdrop of deadly attacks.

Around 19 million voters will cast their ballots at 47,000 polling stations across the country Agence France Presse

Iraqis have begun voting in their second full parliamentary elections since the 2003 US-led invasion against a backdrop of deadly attacks.

Around 19 million eligible voters will choose from over 6,000 candidates from 86 political groups looking to gain seats in the 325-member assembly.

But even as polls opened on Sunday, attacks across the country left at least 24 people dead and 50 more wounded.

The bloodiest toll was from an explosion that destroyed a residential building in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding eight more.

Initial reports indicated that dynamite was used to blow up the building, the interior ministry official said.

Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent Iraqi prime minister, whose State of Law coalition is claiming credit for improved security since the peak of sectarian warfare in 2006-07, dismissed Sunday’s attacks as “just noises to scare the Iraqi people from voting”.

“But I know the Iraqi people. They have conviction. When there is a challenge, they persevere, and you will see for yourselves the large number of people that come out to vote.”

Sporadic violence

Polling stations across the country were due to stay open until 5pm local time (1400 GMT) unless polling hours were extended.

However, the violence threatened to dampen voter enthusiasm. Twelve people were killed in a series of attacks in the Amil, Hurriya, Jihad and Khadraa districts of Baghdad, sources confirmed to Al Jazeera.

Read more at Al Jazeera English

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