Iraq: Bin Laden's threat will put many off voting

At least 42 people were killed in a string of attacks on Iraqi security forces and other targets on Tuesday after &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Osama bin Laden declared fugitive Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his "emir" in the country.

In an audiotape purportedly recorded by the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>al-Qaeda leader, bin Laden also said all those who took part in landmark January 30 elections would be "infidels," raising the stakes in the run-up to the vote.

In one of a series of apparently coordinated strikes in Sunni Muslim strongholds north of Baghdad, insurgents stormed a police station in Dijla between Tikrit and Samarra and gunned down 12 policemen, police said, as News24 reported.

The timing of the attacks and broadcast of the al Qaeda leader's audiotape seemed coincidental but together they racked up the pressure on Iraqi voters to stay at home on Jan. 30 and seemed aimed to instil fear in Iraq's new security forces. Both have grave implications for U.S. prospects in Iraq.

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