Iraq votes as fears of violence casts shadow on poll

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Iraq votes as fears of violence casts shadow on poll

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Iraq goes to the polls in the first election since US forces pulled out of the country three years ago.

Security is extremely tight as the country is going through its worst period of sectarian violence since 2008.

More than 160 people have been killed this week alone.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is looking to secure a third term despite a growing insurgency in the east:“I call upon all Iraqis to go to the ballot box and participate in large numbers in the election because those who take part in the election have a right to monitor and ask questions.”

As many as 50,000 polling stations are operating across the country with 22 million Iraqis registered to vote.

The campaign has been marred by violence on Monday 50 people were killed as police and soldiers cast their votes.

The streets of the capital Baghdad are deserted as the city is in lockdown.

The results are not expected for a while, following the previous poll ten months passed before a new government was formed.