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Bush anticipated a 'grand moment in Iraqi history' (file photo) 27 January 2005 -- U.S. President George W. Bush urged Iraqis to defy insurgents by voting in the 30 January national elections, just hours after 31 Marines died when a U.S. military transport helicopter crashed in western Iraq.

The crash was the deadliest single incident for U.S. forces since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Bush said Iraqis who vote will be bravely fighting insurgents trying to disrupt the country's future.

"Terrorists in that country [Iraq] have declared war against democracy itself and thereby declared war against the Iraqi people themselves," Bush said. "Yet, the elections will go forward. Millions of Iraqi voters will show their bravery, their love of country, and their desire to live in freedom."

Six more U.S. soldiers died in Iraq yesterday in two other attacks. And 22 Iraqis were killed by two separate car bomb explosions in northern Iraq.

At the United Nations, UN electoral assistance division director Carina Perelli said that continuing violence will make the elections far from ideal, but said the polls will be technically sound.

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the violence may worsen after the election.

(Reuters/AFP/AP/dpa)
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