Iraqis braved the fear of violence on Saturday to vote in the first election since the U.S. military withdrawal, though delayed voting in some parts of the country and an apparently lacklustre turnout elsewhere has cast doubt on the credibility of the vote.

Candidates are vying for seats on provincial councils that have sway over public works projects and other decisions at the local level. The vote is an important barometer of support for Iraq’s various political blocs heading into next year’s parliamentary elections.

The election was a test of the Iraqi army and police, who face a reviving al-Qaeda insurgency and were for the first time since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion securing an election on their own.

There were reports of scattered violence, but no fatalities. Six people were reported wounded.

Thousands of candidates from 50 electoral blocs are running for 378 positions.

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