Campaigning has officially begun in Iraq for the country's March 7 general election.
The first official campaign posters were plastered across Baghdad Friday. Campaigning opened amid simmering tensions over the decision to ban a number of Sunni Muslim candidates because of alleged ties to late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.
Analysts say the ban could re-ignite sectarian tensions between majority Shi'ite Muslims and Sunnis, who dominated Iraq under Saddam. Iraqi health officials say a series of bomb blasts killed six people Friday and wounded at least 35 others in the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said five people were killed during a joint raid with Iraqi forces in a village near the Iranian border. It said those killed were suspected members of an Iranian-backed militant group. But local officials said at least eight people died, mostly civilians. No other information was immediately available.