Baghdad rally blasts kill 10, days before nationwide elections

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Two car bombs at an election rally in Baghdad for a Shi'ite political party killed at least 10 people Friday, officials said, just days before nationwide parliamentary elections.

The blasts went off at around 5:30 pm (1430 GMT) at a rally for the Saadiqun bloc, the political wing of the Asaib Ahel al-Haq militia, according to a police colonel and a medical source.

At least 21 people were wounded.

The rally came with campaigning at a fever pitch ahead of Wednesday's polls, Iraq's first since March 2010 and the country's first national elections since the departure of US forces in late 2011.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is seeking a third term in power, with violence at its worst since 2008 and the country still looking to rebuild after decades of conflict and sanctions that have left the economy and infrastructure in dire need of repair.

The explosions were near the Al-Qanat highway, which runs through eastern and northern Baghdad.

An interior ministry official said the rally was attended by Ammar al-Hakim, head of the Citizens bloc, a formerly powerful political group seen as close to Iran, and the leader of the Asaib Ahel al-Haq militia, Qais al-Khazali.

A number of Shi'ite blocs are battling Maliki for votes in his traditional heartland of central and southern Iraq.

They include not only Citizens and Sadiqun but also the Ahrar movement, which is linked to powerful cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

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