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UN Official Backs Iraqi Vote, Rejects New Ballot


A top United Nations official in Iraq has rejected calls to hold new parliamentary elections, saying the vote earlier this month was credible.

The U.N. advisor to Iraq's election commission Craig Jenness said there were some instances of voter fraud, but said the problems did not justify calling a new vote.

Sunni Arabs and secular Shi'ites have alleged widespread fraud and rejected initial vote tallies that show a strong lead by a key Shi'ite coalition.

Critics of the vote held new demonstrations in several Iraqi cities Wednesday. Meanwhile, detainees at a Baghdad prison launched a failed jailbreak, killing four guards, an interpreter and four prisoners.

One U.S. soldier was also wounded. And a little-known militant group has threatened to kill a kidnapped French water engineer Bernard Planche, unless France ends what the group called its "illegitimate presence" in Iraq.

French officials said they were studying the claim, made in a videotape.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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