At least killing 26 people were killed Sunday in attacks aimed at intimidating Iraqis participating in national elections.
Despite mortars raining down nearby, voters in the capital still came to the polls. "These acts will not undermine the will of the Iraqi people," Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Sunday morning, speaking to reporters after casting his ballot.
In a posting early Sunday on an Islamic Web site, the al-Qaida front group Islamic State in Iraq warned that anyone taking part in the voting would be exposing themselves to "God's wrath and to the mujahideen's weapons."
On his part, the leader of the Sadrist movement in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr praised Iraqis for their broad participation in the legislative elections and urged them "to get the best of patriots and loyal to the Parliament." At a press conference in Tehran, Sadr said it would be a door for ending the occupation and serve the Iraqi people regardless of their sects.
He said the rejection of the occupation does not mean opposition to the electoral process, and urged Iraqis to turn it into what he called political resistance to the occupation.
About 6,200 candidates are competing for 325 seats in the new parliament. To try to secure the elections, Iraq sealed its borders, closed the airport and deployed 200,000 Iraqi military and police members in the streets. Extra checkpoints were set up across Baghdad and in some parts of central Baghdad, people could not go 50 meters without hitting a checkpoint, the AP reported.