Early voting began today, and so election-related attacks heightened. At least 17 Iraqis were killed and 82 more were wounded in poll violence across the country. Those who cannot vote on Sunday were encouraged to take advantage of today’s special polling. They include about 850,000 security personnel, prisoners and hospital patients.
Although there is no official documentation, health workers in Fallujah have observed an increase in birth defects, notably heart ailments, since the end of fighting between U.S. forces and Sunni gunmen six years ago. A neighborhood where fighting was intense seems to be the focal point of the defects. Some believe the Iraqi government is keeping the increase quiet so as to not embarrass U.S. forces.
In Baghdad, six people were killed and at least 22 others were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest near a group of soldiers, who were lined up for early voting in the Mansour neighborhood. Bombers struck at a group policemen voting in Bab al-Muadham, killing four of them and wounding 16 more. Seven people were killed and 23 more were wounded when a Katyusha rocket exploded near a Hurriya district polling station.
In Mosul, a policeman was injured when gunmen threw a grenade at a polling station. A soldier was wounded in a second attack at a separate station. A bomb wounded nine people when it exploded at the home of a candidate. Seven security members were wounded in a pair of rocket attacks. Soldiers arrested four men who guard the governor.
The Ninewa province electoral commission accused the army of delaying early voting in Mosul. Also, group of federal police was said to have arrived from Baghdad to interrupt polling south of Mosul in Wadi Hajar and to urge voters to select P.M. Maliki if they do vote.
A stun grenade wounded three supporters of the Kurdistan Alliance (KA) bloc in southern Kirkuk.
Police in Ramadi arrested a suicide bomber and disarmed a truck bomb that was targeting a bridge.
Gunmen attacked a police station in Tal Afar, but no casualties were reported.
Ten men suspected of involvement in yesterday’s deadly attack in Baquba were arrested.
Sixteen suspects were arrested in Amara, for handing out leaflets that urge Iraqis not to vote for the ruling bloc.
Trucks will not be allowed into Muthanna province as part of election-day security operations.
In Anbar province, thousands of Iraqi security personnel hoping to vote in today’s early election claim their names were left off the rolls or attached to polling stations hundreds of miles away. Many were allowed to vote provisionally to avoid Sunni accusations of vote rigging. A curfew was lifted.
In the Kurdish Autonomous Region, voters will be permitted to drive to polling stations; however, they cannot travel between cities.
The head of the Iraqiya voting bloc called on the Diwaniya province electoral commission to resist any pressure to rig votes.