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Iraqi Vote Count Delayed A Few Days

Ballot counting in Baghdad on 15 October 18 October 2005 -- Iraq's electoral commission says results from the country's 15 October referendum on the draft constitution will be delayed for "several more days" as it rechecks ballots because of "unusually high numbers" in some provinces.

While majority Shi'ia and Kurds appear to favor the text, it could be defeated if two-thirds of voters in three Sunni provinces rejected it.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush praised Iraqis for turning out in large numbers to vote in the referendum.

"My first reaction to the vote was that an increase in turnout was an indication that the Iraqi people are strongly in favor of settling disputes in a peaceful way," Bush said.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, says it killed 70 suspected insurgents near Al-Ramadi on 16 October. Eyewitnesses, however, said at least 39 civilians were among those killed by U.S. bombs and rockets. The U.S. military said its air raids were in reaction to an attack earlier by insurgents.