53 killed in twin blasts in Iraq ahead of poll results

March 27th, 2010 - 5:06 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, March 27 (IANS) At least 53 people were killed and 105 injured in two blasts in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province Friday, hours before the announcement of the final result of the country’s parliamentary elections.
“Our latest reports said that 53 people were killed and 105 others injured by the two bombings,” Xinhua quoted a provincial police official as saying.

The blasts took place Friday evening when a roadside bomb and a minibus loaded with explosives detonated in a quick succession at a busy street of Khalis town, near the provincial capital Baquba, 65 km northeast of Baghdad, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The massive blasts struck several popular restaurants and nearby shops, destroying 15 shops and restaurants and leaving several vehicles ablaze, the official said.

Diyala, located along the Iranian border, has long been a stronghold of Al Qaida militants and other insurgent groups fighting against the presence of US troops in the country since 2003.

The attacks came about an hour before the Independent High Electoral Commission announced that Iraq’s former prime minister Ayad Allawi came first in the parliamentary elections, which was held March 7.

Allawi’s Iraqiya list won 91 seats in the 325-seat parliament, only two seats ahead of prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition.

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