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Iraqis defy intimidation to vote, attacks kill 26


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Insurgents bombed a polling station and lobbed grenades at voters Sunday, killing 26 people in attacks aimed at intimidating Iraqis participating in an election that will determine whether the country can overcome jagged sectarian divisions that have plagued it since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.


Iraqis hope the election will put them on a path toward national reconciliation as the U.S. prepares to withdraw combat forces by late summer and all American troops by the end of next year. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is fighting for his political future with challenges from a coalition of mainly Shiite religious groups on one side and a secular alliance combining Shiites and Sunnis on the other.


Despite mortars raining down nearby, voters in the capital still came to the polls. In the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad, Walid Abid, a 40-year-old father of two, was speaking as mortars landed several hundreds yards (meters) away. Police reported at least 20 mortar attacks in the neighborhood shortly after daybreak and mortars were also launched toward the Green Zone ? home to the U.S. Embassy and the prime minister's office.


"I am not scared and I am not going to stay put at home," Abid said. "Until when? We need to change things. If I stay home and not come to vote, Azamiyah will get worse."



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Well, it took 30 years in Ulster - not sure the post WW1 Western construct of Iraq, with Kurds in the north striving for independence; Sheites in the south becoming clients of Iran; leaving a marginalised Sunni minority in the middle, festering over the fact that they were once in charge; provides a sound basis for peace and democracy? :?

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