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Iraq election: Security forces vote early, smiling and proud

Though several more bombs underscored the persistent insurgent threat to the Iraq election, the attitude among security forces – many of whom couldn't safely wear their uniform in public three years ago – was light-hearted.

An Iraqi soldier votes at a polling station in Baghdad Thursday. Iraqi security forces, along with prisoners and the infirm began voting in the Iraq election Thursday, three days ahead of the rest of the country.

Ahmed Jadallah/REUTERS

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Shrapnel had partially blinded Ali al-Tamimi, and both of his legs were broken in several places.

But not even 24 hours after being injured in a suicide bombing northeast of Baghdad, Mr. Tamimi cast a ballot from his hospital bed, joining hundreds of thousands of other Iraqis who voted Thursday in an early round reserved for security forces, detainees, and hospital patients who might not be able to make it to the polls for Sunday's parliamentary election.

"I challenge them. I will vote in spite of them!" Tamimi, the head of health services in Diyala province, said of the bombers. "This is our chance to elect a better future for Iraq."

The early voting highlighted three mainstays of an Iraqi election day: the resilience of voters, in this case the nation's beleaguered security forces; sectarian-laced allegations of electoral fraud; and the determination of militants to disrupt the process. Attacks near polling stations in Baghdad killed at least 12 people Thursday and wounded more than 45, authorities said.

Bombs underscore persistent insurgent threat

The day belonged foremost to Iraqi police, military and other security forces, who are the nation's first defense now that US forces have pulled out of major cities in preparation for a full withdrawal by the end of next year. Baghdad's streets were mostly empty due to a public holiday, allowing military trucks to deliver clapping, chanting Iraqi troops to vote at heavily guarded polling places.

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