Wave of attacks mars election day

BAGHDAD - Residents of Iraq’s capital turn out for the election but voting is also marred by a spate of mortar and suicide attacks, although many bombers fail to reach the interior of polling stations.

* Over a dozen people are killed in a spate of suicide bombing attacks mostly aimed at polling stations.

* The deadliest attack is a suicide bombing outside a polling centre in Baghdad, which kills seven civilians and two policemen.

* A policeman was killed and four others wounded when a bomber blew himself up near a polling station in the Mansur district.

* The suicide attacks are claimed by the group of Iraq’s most wanted man, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in an internet statement.

* Four die in a mortar attack on Baghdad’s Shi’ite Sadr City neighbourhood.

* Justice Minister Malek Douhan al-Hassan escapes an suicide attack which kills a guard.

SUNNI TRIANGLE

There is little voting in Sunni towns once seen as rebel strongholds with few polling stations open and residents not venturing out to vote.

* The streets of Fallujah, seized back from rebels in November are desolate.

* A US soldier is killed early in day in the surrounding province of Al-Anbar

* In Balad, a female voter and a child are killed in a mortar attack on a polling station, police say.

SHI’ITE STRONGHOLDS

Iraq’s Shi’ite majority stream into stations in southern strongholds for elections they hope will grant them political dominance for the first time in the country’s modern history.

‘TRIANGLE OF DEATH’

To the south of Baghdad, a bomb tears apart a bus of Sunni Arab voters being ferried to a polling station, killing five people.

NORTHERN IRAQ

The US military applauds a higher than expected turnout, despite fears of a mass boycott by Sunni Arabs and attacks by insurgents in the ethnically divided provinces of Kirkuk and Mosul.

* Attacks are reported in Mosul, with at least one person killed, as a steady trickle of voters cast their ballots.

IRAQI KURDISTAN

In one of the safest areas of ‘post-war’ Iraq, Kurds flock to polling stations to take part in elections they hope will herald a new era for their long-oppressed community.

* A heavy police and Iraqi army presence is in evidence around polling stations in Arbil.

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