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Iraqi officials checking ballots

Random recounts under way for all provinces

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi election officials are conducting random ballot recounts from Saturday's constitutional referendum because there were particularly high numbers of "yes" or "no" votes in most of Iraq's 18 provinces.

The development is delaying the disclosure of preliminary election results.

Such recounts will be performed for every province, said Abdul al-Hussein al-Hindawi, chairman of the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission.

Al-Hindawi said Tuesday that in at least 10 provinces, the total number of votes exceeded 95 percent.

Nine provinces dominated by Kurds or Shiite Arabs recorded "yes" votes higher than 95 percent, and in Anbar, a Sunni-dominated province, the total number of "no" votes exceeded the same percentage.

Al-Hindawi would identify only five of the provinces -- Anbar in western Iraq, Irbil and Duhuk in the Kurdish north, and Basra and Muthanna in the Shiite south.

Shiites and Kurds have largely backed the constitution, while Sunni Arabs have expressed opposition to the document.

"Because of these high numbers and in order to be transparent, we are conducting a random ballot recount for all provinces," al-Hindawi said.

"This random recount is being done in Baghdad. There is no charge of fraud; this is only an additional effort at total transparency and accuracy."

On Monday, the commission issued a statement on the tabulation process, saying it "is progressing well, and in accordance with the plan put in place with the assistance of the United Nations."

The provincial counts are important because if two-thirds or more of the votes in three or more provinces turn out to be "no," the referendum will fail.

Not all provinces recorded extremely high results.

Tameem province, an ethnically mixed and tense region that includes the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, recorded 340,000 "yes" and 204,000 "no" votes, according to an Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission source.

U.S. soldier, Iraqi officials killed

A U.S. soldier was killed Tuesday by small-arms fire in the northern city of Mosul, according to a U.S.-led coalition statement.

No other details were immediately available.

Earlier, a U.S. military spokesman said that two U.S. Marines died in a firefight with insurgents in the western city of Rutba, near the Jordanian border. Four insurgents also died in Monday's fighting.

The Marines were members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Since the start of the war, 1,982 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

In other violence Tuesday, Talib Ibrahim al-Dulaimi, deputy governor of Anbar province, was shot and killed in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, according to a hospital official.

Gunmen also opened fire Tuesday on a car in eastern Baghdad, killing Ayid Abdulghani Yusif, an adviser to Iraq's industry minister.

In Muqdadiya, northeast of Baquba, gunmen killed a police lieutenant Tuesday outside his house in a drive-by shooting.

Sixty miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Balad, a roadside bombing killed an Iraqi interpreter and injured 10 U.S. soldiers, the U.S. military said.

The violence comes on the eve of the much-anticipated trial of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday. Saddam, who has been in custody since December 2003, will answer to crimes against humanity charges in connection with the massacre of scores of people in Dujail, a small town north of Baghdad. (Full story)

CNN's Arwa Damon, Enes Dulami and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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