Iraqis brave threat of violence to cast ballots

Global News

BAGHDAD – Unshaken by the latest surge in violence, Iraqis braved the threat of bombs and attacks to vote Wednesday in key elections for a new parliament amid a massive security operation as the country slides deeper into sectarian strife.

Hundreds of thousands of troops and police fanned out to guard voting centres in the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 American pullout. Scattered attacks still took place north of Baghdad, killing at least three people and wounding 16.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has held power for eight years, faces growing criticism over government corruption and persistent bloodshed as sectarian tensions threaten to push Iraq back toward the brink of civil war.

The 63-year-old Shiite leader’s State of Law party was widely expected to win the most seats in the 328-member parliament but to fall short of a majority. That would allow al-Maliki to keep his post only if…

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