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Iraq election: Iraqis defy bombs to vote

Some of the polling stations in the Iraq election emptied during the morning’s attacks, but after encouragement from several political leaders, voting seemed to pick up again in the afternoon.

By Jane ArrafCorrespondent / March 7, 2010

Supporters of the 'Gorran' or 'Change' movement celebrate in the streets after polls closed in Sulaimaniyah, Sunday. Insurgents bombed a polling station and lobbed grenades at voters Sunday, killing 38 people in attacks aimed at intimidating those taking part in the Iraq election.

Yahya Ahmed/AP

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Ramadi, Iraq

Iraqis across large parts of the country defied bomb blasts and the threat of more attacks to vote in the Iraq election, in what appeared to be a sweeping desire for change after four years of sectarian division and a lack of basic services.

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In Baghdad, what some security officials described as the first of a rain of rockets was fired just before dawn in an effort to keep voters from the polls. Thirty-eight Iraqis were killed and almost 90 injured in the attacks in Baghdad, according to the interior ministry in what was considered to be a conservative estimate.

A United States military official said most of the explosions were small homemade bombs. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense said the attacks included six mortars. He said Iraqi security forces defused 54 bombs in Baghdad Sunday. Security sources said Iraqi and American forces disabled another 16 explosive devices on Saturday near polling sites.

EDITORIAL: High stakes, shaky hopes for Iraq election

Some of the polling stations emptied during the morning’s attacks, but after calls from several political leaders urging Iraqis not to lose the chance for their voices to be heard, voting seemed to pick up again in the afternoon.

“I think the bombing provoked people to vote,” said one Western official. The official, who had been at a polling site near one of the explosions, asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to be quoted by name.

In Najaf, voters show their determination

In Najaf, voters shrugged off a car bomb yesterday that killed at least three pilgrims near the the city’s holy shrine to cast their votes.

“It is the fate of our country and the future of our children that is being decided. This is something we have to do,” says Mohammad Hussein, a laborer. Mr Hussein placed his ballot in a clear plastic box and then dipped his finger into indelible purple ink to prove that he had voted. He also had his own two small sons dip their own fingers the ink to mark the historic occasion.

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