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Polls close in Iraq following election-day violence

Polls close in Iraq following election-day violence
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Polls have closed in Iraq’s first national election since US forces withdrew in 2011.

Prime minister Nuri al-Maliki was among the first to vote. He’s seeking a third term in office, amid rising violence in the west of the country where Sunni Muslim militants are battling the Iraqi military.

Maliki, a Shi’ite Muslim, has been accused of aggravating sectarian splits and trying to consolidate power.

Voting went with few hitches in the capital Baghdad, where military checkpoints could be seen close to polling stations.

But officials say across Iraq at least 14 people have died as the result of dozens of attacks targeting the election.

Voters could choose from 9,012 candidates and political analysts predict no party is likely to win a majority in the 328-seat parliament.

Forming a government may, therefore, prove difficult, even if Maliki’s State of Law alliance wins the most seats.