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    Obama salutes Iraqis for voting despite violence

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    (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Iraqis on Sunday for voting in a parliamentary election despite bomb and rocket attacks that killed at least 38 people.

    “I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

    “Their participation demonstrates that the Iraqi people have chosen to shape their future through the political process,” Obama said.

    Scores of mortar rounds, rockets and roadside bombs exploded near polling stations across Iraq in an apparent effort to scare voters after Sunni Islamist insurgents vowed to wreck voting for Iraq’s second full-term parliament since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

    Obama noted that Iraq’s “Independent High Electoral Commission” would continue working in the coming days to count ballots and investigate complaints.

    “I commend the Iraqi government and Iraqi Security Forces for providing security at nearly 50,000 voting booths at more than 8,000 polling stations across Iraq,” Obama said.

    “We mourn the tragic loss of life today, and honor the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people who once again defied threats to advance their democracy.”

    (Reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Paul Simao)

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