An Iraqi soldier cast his vote at a polling station in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on April 28, 2014 ahead of Iraq's first general elections since US troops withdrew in 2011. AFP PHOTO / MARWAN IBRAHIM
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Iraqi army and police personnel began voting for a new parliament on Monday, two days before the rest of the nation's 22 million registered voters can go to the polls in the first nationwide elections since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. forces.The early balloting is meant to free up the 1 million-strong military and security forces for election day on Wednesday, so they can protect polling stations and voters. Iraq is experiencing a surge in sectarian violence, with Sunni militants increasingly targeting security forces, army troops and members of the nation's Shiite majority.The biggest election-related violence in Iraq came on Friday, when a series of bombings targeted an election rally for a militant Shiite group, killing at least 33 people.
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