Mortars, sound grenades greet Iraq voters
BAGHDAD - Two mortars landed near voting centres west of Baghdad Wednesday morning as Iraqis went to the polls in the country's first general election since US troops withdrew, an official said.
The mortars did not cause any casualties, according to Shaker al-Essawi, a senior municipal official in the area just west of Baghdad where the attacks took place.
Elsewhere in Iraq, militants set off nearly a dozen sound grenades in the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu, north of Baghdad, while a senior police chief in Kirkuk province survived an assassination attempt carried out with twin bombings targeting his convoy, officials said.
The violence comes after two days of bloodshed that left nearly 90 people dead nationwide, ahead of the nationwide vote in which Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is seeking a third term in office.
Unrest has surged in recent months, with more than 750 people killed already this month, according to an AFP tally.
Meanwhile, Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, seeking re-election in parliamentary polls, told reporters his bloc's "victory is certain" after casting his ballot in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone.
"Our victory is certain, but we are waiting to see the size of our victory," said Maliki, who has been Iraq's leader since 2006.
"Today is a big success, and even better than the last elections, even though there is no foreign soldier on Iraqi soil," the premier said.
He called for a move away from national unity governments to ones of political majority.
Long queues formed from early morning at tightly-guarded election centres despite a spate of attacks in recent days on polling booths and campaign gatherings.
Iraqis have a long list of grievances, ranging from poor public services to rampant corruption and high unemployment, but the month-long campaign has centred on Maliki's bid for a third term and a dramatic deterioration in security.