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 Violence Precedes Historic Iraq Vote

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BAGHDAD, Iraq — Eight people were killed in a homicide bombing attack on Saturday, less than 24 hours before polling places were to open for Iraq's first democratic election in more than 50 years. The ongoing anti-vote violence would keep the majority of eligible voters from casting ballots, the country's postwar leader predicted.

"We hope everyone will participate," President Ghazi al-Yawer (search) said at a news conference on Saturday. "But the majority prefer not to participate for fear of going out to polling stations."

While a minority of Iraqis were purposely sitting out for political reasons, most of those staying away would do so out of fears of attacks, al-Yawer said.

The latest deadly bombing was executed by an explosives-laden man who blew himself up in front of a police station in Khanaqin, a Kurdish town 70 miles northeast of Baghdad on the Iranian border. Police Col. Mohammed al-Khanaqini said the man detonated himself between a U.S. base and a courthouse.

The streets of Baghdad were largely empty, due to dusk-to-dawn curfews, restricted intra-province travel and sealed borders. But bursts of heavy gunfire exchanges between U.S. and Iraqi force and insurgents, several large explosions and American fighter jets continued to rattle the capital city.


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