Violence escalates on Iraq election eve, but leader hopes for two-thirds turnout

[JURIST] Insurgents attacked a police station Saturday in Khanaqin near the border with Iran, killing eight people and making a total of seventeen killed across the country on the eve of elections. The latest attacks came even as security forces barricaded streets, sealed the border, and closed Baghdad airport. Sunni Muslim extremists have threatened to "wash the streets" in the blood of those who attempt to vote in the elections this Sunday. Reuters has more.

In other Iraq election news...

  • Iraqi president Ghazi al-Yawar [Wikipedia profile] was reported early Saturday as saying that he did not expect the majority of Iraqis to vote [Reuters report] because of increasing security concerns, insisting that fear rather than boycotting would keep Iraqis from the polls. He later said he had been misinterpreted, and that although he expected most Iraqis who did not vote to have been dissuaded by fear, he nonetheless expected up to two-thirds of eligible voters to cast ballots. Reuters has more.

  • Outside of Iraq, fighting broke out Saturday at a polling station in Sydney as protestors opposed to the poll confronted expatriate voters. Later an abandoned bag created a bomb scare outside the polling place which was evacuated until the bag was confirmed to be harmless. BBC News has more.

  • Hundreds of Iraqi expatriates voted Friday [Iraq OCV official website] in the US with thousands more expected to vote Saturday and Sunday. Nearly 26,000 people have registered to vote in the five US polling cities of Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles, and Washington. AP has more. The Iraq Out-of-Country Voting Program announced Saturday that over 84,000 expatriate Iraqi voted worldwide [Iraq OCV press release] on the first full day of out-of-country voting, less than a third of those who had registered.
1:38 PM ET - The compound of the US Embassy in Baghdad [official website] was hit by a rocket attack late Saturday; two Americans were killed and four wounded according to an embassy spokeman. AP has more.

 

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