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In Iraq, a day of votes, violence

On March 7, 2010, millions of Iraqis voted to elect lawmakers who will rule the country for years as U.S. forces withdraw. The election was marred by dozens of attacks that killed nearly 40 people and underscored the security problems the incoming government will face.

Y'ummah, she whispered in fear after three successive explosions. The term means "Oh, mother." But she stayed put.

"This is our right," she said. "We came to take it."

Her son, Salem Malah, was killed by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia that once controlled the streets.

His name is still on the voter rolls, and the family brought his identification card, planning to cast a vote on his behalf.

"He died for Maliki," said Malah's widow, Hayat Jiaz.

Relatives began to sob as they walked toward the registration table.

"We'll vote for Maliki," Jiaz, 38, said. "We want our right: security for the people."

Fadel reported from Baghdad. Special correspondents Saad Sarhan in Najaf, Uthman al-Mokhtar in Fallujah, K.I. Ibrahim and Qais Mizher in Baghdad, and Aziz Alwan in Basra, and staff writers Michael A. Fletcher and R. Jeffrey Smith in Washington and Greg Jaffe, traveling with Gates, contributed to this report.

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