ASIA NEWS REPORT: Iraqis pick their new members of parliament tomorrow. The outgoing coalition led by Prime Minister al-Maliki is expected to win. Meanwhile, a back-to back blast kills 11 today, injuring scores more in a market north-east of the capital. Yesterday, a small Kurdish town was also hit. Armed Islamists want to keep voters away.Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 11 people were killed and 19 wounded in an outdoor market after a pair of back-to-back bombs ripped through an outdoor market today, a day before the country goes to the polls tomorrow, the first nationwide balloting since the 2011 withdrawal of US forces.
According to local witnesses, the attacks are an attempt by Islamist militants to discourage voters from going to the polls. More than 9,000 candidates are vying for 328 seats in parliament, which is widely expected to be won by an alliance led by outgoing Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is likely to succeed himself for a third time.
Today's attack took place in the town of al-Saadiyah, 140 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. One of the bombs was placed in the middle of the town's main vegetable and meat market, whilst a second was put near one of the exits - presumably to strike people fleeing from the first blast, a tactic widely used by insurgents in order to inflict as many casualties as possible.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the latter bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida-inspired Sunni militants seeking to undermine the Shia-led central government in Baghdad.
Previously, Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda spin-off group, had claimed responsibility for yesterday's attacks.
In one incident, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a small town in Iraqi Kurdistan killing more than 25 people and injuring 36. The bomber detonated the explosive device among a group of people watching a live TV broadcast of President Jalal Talabani's first public appearance after a long illness. Official sources said that almost 50 people were killed in this incident.
During recent visits to Christian communities throughout the country, the Chaldean Patriarch spoke out against the wave of violence, which also affects the Christian minority.
"Christians are the ones who suffer the most from the upsurge in violence across Iraq," His Beatitude Mar Raphael I Louis Sako said.
"This is due to the fact that Christians do not maintain tribal affiliations, as Arab Muslims do. The only way they have to resolve disputes is through the Iraqi legal system, which is often criticised for its corruption, and is subject to political manipulation."
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