Suicide blast near ballot warehouse in Iraq’s Kirkuk kills two

Suicide blast near ballot warehouse in Iraq’s Kirkuk kills two
2 min read
01 July, 2018
A suicide bombing targeting a ballot warehouse in Iraq's Kirkuk killed at least two and wounded 21 others just days before a manual recount of votes
People at the scene in the aftermath of the deadly blast [Twitter]

A suicide bombing on Sunday morning targeting a warehouse in Kirkuk where ballot boxes from Iraq's May elections were stored killed at least two and wounded 21 others, days before a vote recount, a security source told The New Arab.

The casualties included police, counter-terrorist officers and at least four civilians, who were wounded when a car bomb driven by a suicide bomber exploded at the main gate of the warehouse, the source said.

The gate was set alight but the blaze did not reach the ballot boxes inside the warehouse, the source added.

Read more: The Iraq Report: Election drama continues as Christians seek return of stolen property

The building was damaged by the blast but the ballot boxes were unaffected, said Rakan al-Juburi, the governor of Kirkuk north of Baghdad.

A large number of security forces rushed to the scene to prevent any further incidents, putting the area on lockdown by erecting checkpoints and roadblocks.

Iraq's supreme court has ordered a manual vote recount in polling stations where results from the May legislative elections were contested following allegations of fraud, predominantly made by unseated lawmakers.

The ballot was won by populist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's electoral alliance with the Communist Party and several other secular groups, as long-time political figures were pushed out by voters seeking change in a country mired in conflict and corruption.

Kirkuk in particular has witnessed weeks of protests by the governate's Turkmen population, who have been demanding a manual recount, insisting that results of the election were fraudulent and more Turkmen candidates should have gained seats.

The vote recount is expected to begin on Tuesday in the Kurdish provinces of Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk, as well as in Kirkuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar, the spokesman of the electoral commission said on Saturday.

Last month a mysterious fire damaged part of Baghdad's biggest ballot warehouse, which security officials suspect was an arson attack attempting to destroy the 3 million voting papers stored in the warehouse.

Agencies contributed to this report.