Gunmen in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk were on Wednesday besieging several polling stations containing election staff, four days after a national vote, the head of the electoral commission said. Riyadh al-Badran said the gunmen, whom he did not identify, were putting pressure on the commission to change the election results in the multi-ethnic region. “The employees of the commission are in a hostage situation,” he said, calling on authorities to provide protection. On Wednesday evening, however, the head of Kirkuk’s law enforcement denied reports that election commission employees were being detained, adding that polling stations were secured and under the protection of counter-terrorism forces.
“The situation inside Kirkuk province is stable and is not a cause for concern,” Major General Maan al-Saadi said in a statement from Iraq’s national security media center.
The final nationwide results should be announced in the next two days, Badran said.
The initial results in Kirkuk were disputed by the Turkmen and Arab communities of the region which is also inhabited by a large Kurdish population.