Iraqi elections probably will be postponed

Iraqi elections sheduled to take place by January 31 may be postponed due to continued widespread violence or a coordinated boycott by Sunni Muslims, US and Iraqi officials said.

"I believe we have a good chance of still meeting the target," Iraqi Ambassador Samir Shakir Mahmood Sumaidaie told reporters at the United Nations in New York. "If, however, at the time it is determined that we need a bit more time, then that situation will be reviewed" by policy makers.

Under Iraq's interim constitution, voters would cast ballots by the end of January for the country's national legislature, which would form a permanent government and write a lasting charter, informs Bloomberg.

According to the Indian Express, Iraqi and &to=http:// ' target=_blank>US troops raided a major Sunni mosque in the capital after Friday prayers, killing or seizing several people, according to local witnesses. Four people were killed and 14 wounded, hospital sources said after National Guards backed by US troops tried to storm the Hanifa mosque. Witnesses said worshippers threw shoes at the troops and soldiers opened fire and threw percussion grenades.

The raid followed more than 100 arrests in a Sunni area of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Baghdad the day before, when police said they detained some militants suspected of escaping Fallujah.

In &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Mosul, an unexplained fire destroyed voter registration papers and other materials being stored at a warehouse. A car bomb in the city wounded a US soldier, while an Iraqi policeman was killed late on Thursday in a mortar attack on a police station at Muqdidiya.

William Taylor, director of the Iraqi Reconstruction Management Office in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said it would be difficult to hold elections unless the situation improves.

"In the Sunni areas and then up in Mosul it is worse today than it was, and we're having greater difficulties from security," Taylor told reporters at the Pentagon in a video teleconference from Baghdad. "We're worried that in some areas again, not all in some areas it would now be difficult to have elections."

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