Iraq’s first provincial election went off more or less smoothly today. Though three mortar shells landed near one polling place, no one was injured or killed, Reuters reports, and polls closed without any other major incidents. Turnout appeared strong, even in places like Anbar province, a Sunni-dominated area that largely sat out 2005’s vote, fearful of insurgent threats.
“This is a victory for all Iraqis,” said Nouri al-Maliki of the turnout. “I am very happy today.” The calm could be due in part to a massive security effort. Thousands of troops are guarding polling stations around the country, borders and airports have been closed, and a nationwide vehicle curfew was imposed to prevent car bombings. More than 14,000 candidates are vying for 440 spots in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces.
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