IS group vows to target polling stations as Iraq gears up for parl’t elections

A worker cleans the street next to a campaign poster of candidates ahead of the parliamentary election, in Najaf, Iraq, April 14, 2018.

Baghdad ( – The Islamic State (IS) group has threatened to carry out terrorist attacks at polling stations in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, slated for May 12, a move that could hinder the country’e efforts to restore long-awaited stability following IS defeat.

In an audio message released on Monday, the group’s spokesman Abul Hassan al-Mohajer said, “All those who participate in the (parliamentary) elections, whether candidates or voters, are infidels and should be dead.”

The recording has not been verified yet, according to the Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies.

Nearly 7,000 Iraqi candidates started on Sunday their campaigning for parliamentary elections, in which they compete for 329 seats.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has promised successful elections despite the challenges of stabilizing areas retaken from IS and returning millions of residents displaced by war to their homes.

In a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month, “emphasized the importance of the success of the upcoming elections to complete the building and construction phase,” a White House statement said.

The elections were originally scheduled for September 2017, but were delayed due to the country’s fight against Islamic State, which ended in December 2017 with the recapture of their remaining territories.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December with the help of a US-led alliance, having retaken all the territory captured by the extremists in 2014 and 2015.

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