Iraqi voters are to elect a new government on Thursday in elections that Iraqis hope will be a turning point for security and stability.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has urged the country's 15 million eligible voters to participate, saying a strong turnout would give the new government the legitimacy it needs to defeat terrorists.
Polling stations for Iraqi expatriates in 15 countries opened Tuesday, and officials said more than 80 thousand people have cast absentee ballots.
More than six thousand candidates have registered to compete for one of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
Officials have implemented strict security measures ahead of the vote, such as closing schools and businesses and banning vehicle traffic.
Wednesday, a bomb attack on a police patrol killed two officers in the northern city of Mosul.