Nine die as violence hits Iraq elections

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Mortar fire and bombs targeting worshippers in Iraq killed nine people and wounded 29 others yesterday in two attacks north of Baghdad shortly after noon prayers.

The violence came a day after a suicide bombing attack on a Baghdad café that killed 36 people and wounded dozens.

Violence had increased ahead of today’s provincial elections.

The voting is for local officials in several provinces, including the capital, Baghdad. Authorities pledged to bolster security ahead of polling.

Police said the first attack came just after Friday prayers as the worshippers were leaving the Sunni mosque of al-Muthana in Khalis, killing seven worshippers and wounding 14 others.

Khalis, a former stronghold of Sunni insurgency, is 50 miles north of Baghdad. Police said part of the mosque was destroyed.

In the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, police said a roadside bomb exploded among Shiite worshippers as they were heading home after prayers, killing two worshippers and wounding 14 others.