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At Least 12 Killed As Early Voting Begins In Iraq


A prison inmate shows his ink-stained finger after voting early inside a prison in Irbil today.
At least seven soldiers were reported killed in suicide bombings at polling stations in Baghdad today, as early voting began ahead of Iraq's parliamentary election on March 7.

Reports said two suicide bombers struck at schools turned polling stations in western and in central Baghdad as soldiers and police were casting ballots.

Earlier today, an explosion killed at least five civilians near a voting station to be used in the March 7 election.

Insurgents are expected to increase the level of attacks in the run-up to the election, in the hope of hindering participation in the voting.

Election organizers say they expect up to 800,000 people who will not be able to go to polling stations to cast ballots in early voting.

Iraqi expatriates will begin voting in 80 cities across 16 countries on March 5.

The election on March 7 is Iraq's second parliamentary vote since the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Around 19 million of Iraq's estimated 28 million people are eligible to vote, with 6,200 candidates standing for the 325 seats in parliament.

compiled from agency reports