Violence has been rising in Iraq for months, but seems to be surging even more in recent weeks, with provincial elections just a week away and al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) looking to enhance its profile.
Killing and kidnapping candidates, particularly Sunni candidates, has been a major goal for Sunni insurgent factions hoping to convince the minority that violent resistance and not political activism is the key to reasserting Sunni power in Iraq.
The rising violence leaves open the question of whether elections are going to be credible, or if voters will be scared off by the prospect of polling violence. Since the last election ended with Sunni-secular bloc Iraqiya winning and then getting shafted in post-election negotiations, many may see voting as high-risk, low-reward.
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