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Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Friday, 26 March 2010

Deadly Iraq blasts ahead of election results

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki chant  at a protest in Baghdad, 26 March
Supporters of PM Nouri Maliki have called for a recount

At least 40 people have been killed in two bomb blasts in the Iraqi town of Khalis, as the country awaits final parliamentary election results.

More than 60 people were also reported hurt in the attack in Diyala province, 70km (43 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

Election officials in Iraq had said earlier that they planned to release the full results of the 7 March poll despite fears it could spark violence.

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is in a tight race with challenger Iyad Allawi.

The Iraqiya political bloc of Mr Allawi, a former prime minister, was ahead by about 11,000 votes nationwide with 95% of the votes counted.

Speaking ahead of the announcement of the final results, the UN's envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert, described the election as "credible" and a "success".

He called on Iraqi parties to "accept the results", the Associated Press reports.

Restaurant targeted

Mr Maliki's supporters have staged protests calling for a recount.

But the head of Iraq's election commission on Thursday ruled out holding a manual recount of all the votes cast.

No single group is expected to win a majority, renewing fears of a protracted political crisis and fresh violence.

A security official told the AFP news agency that women and children were among those caught in Friday's twin blasts in Khalis.

The attack appeared to target a popular restaurant in the town, near the provincial capital, Baquba.

A police official, Salah Mohammed, told AP that one of the blasts was caused by a car bomb and the other a suicide bomber.



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