Some of the polling stations in the Iraq election emptied during the morning’s attacks, but after encouragement from several political leaders, voting seemed to pick up again in the afternoon.
Iraqis across large parts of the country defied bomb blasts and the threat of more attacks to vote in the Iraq election, in what appeared to be a sweeping desire for change after four years of sectarian division and a lack of basic services.
In Baghdad, what some security officials described as the first of a rain of rockets was fired just before dawn in an effort to keep voters from the polls. Thirty-eight Iraqis were killed and almost 90 injured in the attacks in Baghdad, according to the interior ministry in what was considered to be a conservative estimate.
A United States military official said most of the explosions were small homemade bombs. The Iraqi Ministry of Defense said the attacks included six mortars. He said Iraqi security forces defused 54 bombs in Baghdad Sunday. Security sources said Iraqi and American forces disabled another 16 explosive devices on Saturday near polling sites.
Some of the polling stations emptied during the morning’s attacks, but after calls from several political leaders urging Iraqis not to lose the chance for their voices to be heard, voting seemed to pick up again in the afternoon.
“I think the bombing provoked people to vote,” said one Western official. The official, who had been at a polling site near one of the explosions, asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to be quoted by name.