Iraqi officials say provincial elections on Sunnday have ended without reports of major violence. In elections seen as a crucial test of Iraq's stability, voters picked representatives for 14 of the country's 18 local councils.
More than 14-thousand candidates sought 440 seats in Iraq's first provincial elections since 2005. Preliminary results are expected in a few days and final results should be released in several weeks. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he is pleased with the high number of voters who went to the polls, saying it shows people have confidence in the government. The vote was expected to draw many Sunni Arabs who boycotted the last provincial elections.
The larger Sunni turnout could shift the balance of power in some provinces. The poll was also expected to show whether Iraqi forces are able to maintain peace as U.S. troops begin to pull back.
Officials hope a successful election will pave the way for national elections later this year. In scattered violence, one person was killed and another injured in a shooting linked to a dispute with soldiers in Baghdad's Sadr City district. North of the capital, mortars exploded near a polling station in the city of Tikrit. There were no reported injuries.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military says soldiers killed two Iraqi policemen who had fired on coalition forces conducting an operation against al-Qaida in Iraq. A statement says coalition troops tried many times to identify themselves during today's incident near the northern city of Mosul, but continued to receive hostile fire. It says they returned fire while acting in self defense. A military officer expressed regret for the deaths of the policemen.