Violence mars build-up to Iraq election

Dozens killed in attacks on polling stations as country prepares for first nationwide election since US forces withdrew.

Police and soldiers voted before civilians [Reuters]

Bombs at polling in Iraq have killed at least 62 people, as army and police personnel cast early votes in the first nationwide elections since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces.

At least 36 people were killed and 60 injured in the worst attack on Monday, a suicide bombing targeting Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Khanaquin, Diyala.

Seven policemen were killed in a suicide attack near a polling station in Kirkuk, while five died people and nine others were injured when a bomb was thrown into a polling station in El Mansour, western Baghdad.

The attacks happened as Iraqi army and police began voting two days before civilians. The plan will free up the security forces to protect polling stations.

More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament. An alliance led by the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, is expected to gain the most seats.

Hospital patients, medical staff and prisoners were also voting on Monday, as were Iraqis living abroad.

The biggest election-related violence so far came on Friday, when 37 people were killed in multiple explosion at a Baghdad election rally for a Shia political group led by the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Sunni armed group, claimed it carried out the attack.

Source: News Agencies