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Iraq Transition

70 percent of Iraqis voted, officials say

Roadside bombs, gunmen continue to plague country

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Almost 70 percent of Iraqis eligible to vote did so during the country's historic December 15 elections, the Iraqi electoral commission said in a report released Wednesday.

The report suggests that a greater percentage of Iraqis hit the polls last week than did Americans during their 2004 presidential election.

In Iraq, more than 10.7 million votes were cast by about 69.9 percent of eligible voters, the commission reported. By comparison, 64 percent (or 126 million) of Americans eligible to vote reported casting ballots in 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau says. (Read about the initial reaction to the election)

The election to choose a full four-year parliament was the third of the year for Iraqis, who already had chosen a transitional government and approved a constitution.

The highest turnout in Iraq was in Dahuk province, where 86.9 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. The lowest turnout was 55.1 percent in Sunni-dominated Anbar province, where 12 polling centers were reportedly closed on election day because of security concerns.

In a speech prior to the Iraqi election, President Bush said he expected greater participation by Sunni Arabs, a religious minority that wielded great power during the rule of former President Saddam Hussein. Many Sunnis boycotted Iraq's January election and gained only a handful of seats in the transitional government.

There were sparse complaints of election violations -- including the destruction of posters, the conduct of electoral employees and campaign violence -- but overall, said a U.N. envoy, the election was a success. (Full story)

Final results from the election could be available next week, said Farid Ayar, spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq.

Violence continues

One person was killed and six others injured when gunmen fired on a civilian vehicle Wednesday morning outside of Khalis, about 9 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of Baquba, said a spokesman for the provincial Joint Coordination Center in Diyala province.

The person who was killed worked at a U.S. military base, according to the U.S. military.

Also Wednesday morning, a body -- thought to be that of another employee at a U.S. military base -- was found near a burned civilian vehicle outside Baquba, the U.S. military said, adding that the body showed signs of torture.

In Baghdad on Wednesday afternoon, an Iraqi police officer was killed and six others were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated as their patrol was near a bridge in the southern part of the city, police said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military reported Wednesday that at least nine suspected insurgents were killed and 16 captured in separate operations in southern Baghdad earlier this week.

In one, a U.S. warplane on Monday attacked and killed suspected insurgents who were seen killing a bound hostage after pulling him from their vehicle. It was one of two vehicles that had fled the scene of a raid. Four suspected insurgents from the second vehicle were captured.

In the second operation, 12 suspected insurgents were detained, and weapons and medical supplies were confiscated Tuesday, in a raid in Northern Babil province.

In other violence:

  • Two Iraqi officials were killed in Amiriya, southwest of Baghdad, about three hours apart. Lt. Muntassir Mohammed and Capt. Talib Twaini both worked for the Interior Ministry.
  • The Iraqi Agriculture Ministry director general was wounded and one of his guards was killed Wednesday when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Baghdad, according to an official with the city's emergency police. Hamid Mahmoud Jawad was transferred to al-Yarmouk Hospital, police said.
  • Minutes later, a civilian was killed and two others were wounded in a firefight between gunmen and police in southern Baghdad's al-Dora neighborhood, police said.
  • Two civilians reportedly were killed Wednesday night, one by a roadside bomb in Waziriya, northeast of Baghdad. And a child was killed and three police officers injured when gunmen in a sedan opened fire on civilians in Amiriya.
  • Two police officers were killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Ghazaliya, in northwest Baghdad.
  • CNN's Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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