Sunday, March 7, 2010

31 die as Iraqis defy violence to vote

clipped from www.usatoday.com
An Iraqi woman casts her vote for the parliamentary elections on Sunday in Baghdad, Iraq.
BAGHDAD (AP) — Polls have closed in Iraq's parliamentary elections after a spate of attacks that marred the vote left 31 people dead.

Despite tight security, insurgents intent on intimidating voters still managed to set off a spate of bombs, rockets and mortar attacks.

Iraqis hope the election will put them on a path toward national reconciliation as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat forces by late summer and all American troops by the end of next year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting for his political future with challenges from a coalition of mainly Shiite religious groups on one side and a secular alliance combining Shiites and Sunnis on the other.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Sunday that there was surprisingly little violence associated with the elections and that security improvements have forced al Qaida-linked militants to change tactics.

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