Iraq election: Purple fingers, but hard work ahead
Despite attacks, triumphant moments unfolded across the country as Iraqis dipped their fingers in purple ink and cast ballots in the Iraq election. Results and voter turnout are not expected for at least another day.
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Voters in those cities, with large Sunni populations, already were skeptical of the whole process. Sunnis boycotted the 2005 election, a move that left them sidelined and with scant representation in the current government, which is dominated by Shiites and Kurds. This time, Sunnis voted, mainly for the bloc headed by Allawi, a secular Shiite, according to interviews with voters in several cities.Skip to next paragraph
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"I had rejected elections on principle since 2003, but a few days ago I decided to participate," said Samir Qaddouri al Jumeili, 34, a health worker and Allawi supporter from majority Sunni Anbar province. He said he expected to find plenty of room for fraud, but was "pleasantly surprised" by the relatively transparent process.
The cause of the deadliest blast, the one that flattened the apartment building in the Shaab neighborhood of north Baghdad, remains a mystery. Lanza, the U.S. military spokesman, said the building either was rigged with explosives for some unknown reason or was the site of a bomb-making operation.
The building came down at 7 in the morning, and by late afternoon Iraqi rescue workers were still using cranes, bulldozers and their bare hands to reach a woman whose faint cries could be heard from under the rubble. She finally was brought out alive, a happy ending that wasn't shared by many other residents. At least 25 people died and another 19 were injured in the explosion, according to the Iraqi interior ministry.
A elderly woman sat on a piece of debris, sobbing into her black robes over the deaths of her daughter and four grandchildren. One of the corpses was still trapped inside. A uniformed Iraqi policeman had to be supported by fellow officers upon learning that his wife and three young children had perished. He'd left them sleeping early in the morning to report for election security duty, said his brother, Abbas Fawzi.
"It surpasses words," Fawzi said, his legs and hands still covered in dust from his attempts to dig out the bodies.
A few yards away, a dazed man who'd already watched his wife's body pulled from the rubble awaited word on the fate of his 12-year-old daughter, who hadn't been found. An older relative, Mohsen Allawi, prayed with him, and then grew angry at the security breach that had allowed such an attack.
"Is this how cheap Iraqi blood is?" Allawi said, his voice furious. "Is this the dream of the Iraqi people?"
---- Issa is a McClatchy special correspondent. Special correspondents Mohammed al Dulaimy and Laith Hammoudi in Baghdad, Ali Abbas in Mosul, Yassine Taha in Suleimaniyah, Jamal Naji in Fallujah, Qassim Zein and Ali al Basri in Najaf and a reporter who isn't named for security reasons in Baquba contributed.
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