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24 Iraqis Killed On Iraq's Election Day


IRAQ- ELECTION: Violence in Iraq's capital has killed 24 Iraqis at the start of voting in the country's first parliamentary election since 2005. An Iraqi Interior Ministry source says at least 12 people were killed and eight wounded when an explosion destroyed a building in Baghdad. An earlier blast as polls opened killed four people and wounded eight more. Eight people died in other blasts in the capital. Scores of mortar shells have struck various locations in Baghdad, including in the "Green Zone" that houses parliament, as well as the U.S. and British embassies. Most attacks have originated from mainly Sunni districts.
Still, long lines were seen at many polling stations. Iraqis are voting in an election seen as a key test of Iraq's ability to maintain security and conduct a smooth transition of power after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Some 19 million eligible voters are choosing from about 6,200 candidates for the country's 325-seat parliament.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai made an unannounced trip Sunday to Marjah, the former Taliban stronghold in Helmand province.
Afghanistan officials say a rocket or mortar landed, but did not explode, about 4 kilometers from the presidential delegation during the visit. The Taliban says it carried out the attack, but a spokesperson said Mr. Karzai was not the target. He said that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the intended victim. However, Mr. Brown, who had been in Marjah Saturday, had already returned home. Officials say no one was hurt in the incident.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials say clashes between rival Islamist militant groups in the country's northeast have killed at least 50 people.
Authorities say the fighting between the Taliban and the Hezb-i-Islami insurgent group erupted Saturday and was continuing Sunday.
CHILE - EARTHQUAKE : Flags will be lowered across Chile Sunday, marking the beginning of a three-day period of national mourning for the hundreds of victims of the country's massive earthquake. Officials are still struggling to establish an accurate death toll more than a week after the 8.8-magnitude quake and tsunami shattered central Chile.
The Chilean government has changed the official number of people killed by the earthquake from more than 800 to 452. Authorities now say they will add victims to the count only after their remains have been positively identified.
The toll was revised after it was discovered that some people who were missing had been listed among the dead. Health officials in Chile have begun a vaccination program to help prevent the spread of disease, administering tetanus and hepatitis vaccine to those at risk in disaster zones.
IRAN-MISSILES: Iranian state media are reporting Iran has begun production of a new short-range missile that can destroy warships that weigh up to 3,000 tons. State radio and television say Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi
Sunday announced in Tehran that the missile, named Nasr 1 (Victory), can be fired from the ground or ships. Vahidi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency, saying Iran will produce another version of the missile that can be launched from helicopters and submarines.Tehran's ambitious space and military programs have worried Western countries. They have expressed fear the same technology could be used to launch nuclear warheads.
ICELAND - REFERENDUM: Icelandic voters overwhelmingly rejected a $5.3-billion deal to repay debts to Britain and the Netherlands for their losses in the 2008 collapse of Iceland's private online bank, Icesave.
Partial results from Saturday's referendum on the issue show that more than 93 percent of voters said "no" to the legislation and only 1.5 percent voted "yes." The bill narrowly passed Iceland's parliament in December, but President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson refused to sign it, saying the terms of repayment were too harsh. Under the plan, each citizen would have to pay about $135 a month for eight years. The president said many Icelandic families cannot afford that.
EGYPT_MUBARAK: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has undergone successful surgery to remove his gall bladder, after temporarily handing over power to his prime minister. The Egyptian leader's operation took place Saturday at University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, after tests showed his gall bladder was inflamed. President Mubarak was on an official trip to Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, when he began complaining of pain. Egyptian state media say Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will carry out presidential duties until Mr. Mubarak is able to return to work.

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