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Iraq: Ballot Warehouse Hit by Blaze as Country Prepares for Recount
A suspicious fire torn through Iraq's largest ballot warehouse, ahead of a controversial recount prompted by allegations of fraud.
A column of dark smoke was seen rising above the al-Russafa district of Baghdad, where around 60% of the capital's two million eligible voters are believed to have cast their ballots in May.
Firefighters were struggling to stop the flames even two hours into the blaze, as staff ran in all directions carrying the blue and white ballot boxes.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi suggested it had been a deliberate attempt to harm the country's democratic processes.
"Burning election warehouses... is a plot to harm the nation and its democracy," he said.
"We will take all necessary measures and strike with an iron fist all who undermine the security of the nation and its citizens."
Iraq's election, held on 12 May, was won by a coalition led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in a surprise result that pushed out political establishment figures.
But the results have been marred by allegations of fraud, levelled by veteran politicians fronted by Salim al-Juburi, the parliamentary speaker.
No timetable has been announced for the recount, which will take place at all polling stations.
Intelligence services said that tests of electronic voting machines produced varied results, implying the tools may be unreliable.
Meanwhile, officials said that Sunday's fire did not damage ballot boxes, which were in an adjacent room, but that voting machines and other electronic equipment were destroyed.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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