12/15/2005, 00.00
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Polling stations open in Iraq amid fresh violence

The start of the voting process was accompanied by gunshots and blasts in Baghdad, Ramadi annd Kirkuk. There has been one victim in Mosul.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At 7am (local time), polling booths opened across Iraq for a general election to select the first fully-mandated national parliament in the post-Saddam Hussein era. The start of the voting was however accompanied by new episodes of violence.

The first victim of this historic day for the country was a security guard, killed in a bomb blast near a polling station in the south-east part of Mosul, one of the most unstable places in Iraq. This was disclosed by local police sources, who said an officer was injured in the same incident. Earlier, explosions, mortar blasts and sporadic shooting were reported in the capital near the so-called "Green Zone", shortly before or immediately after polling stations opened.  No deaths were reported.

The voter turnout is predicted to be around 70 to 80%, higher than previous occasions; 59% voted in January and 64% in October. This time, there is no Sunni boycott: many influential leaders of this community have admitted that neglecting to vote in the previous ballot was a mistake.

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See also
Iraq poll: who will dominate the National Assembly?
Elections in Mosul, celebrating in the streets
How voting will take place in Iraq (overview)
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