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Voting ends in controversial poll in northern Iraq

Some five million people were expected to vote to decide if Kurds in Iraq should seek independence

Voting ended in controversial referendum on the secession of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region hours ago.

The polls were due to be closed at 6pm local time (15:00 GMT) but the Kurdish Regional Government’s Election Commission extended the operation by another hour.

The commission said the turnout stood at 76 per cent.

Local authorities have urged the residents not to carry out aerial firing while celebrating the success of the referendum.

A shooting incident took place in which a civilian was killed in disputed district of Tuz Khurmatu in Saladin province.

Read: Iraq takes control of borders ahead of Kurdish independence vote

Today’s non-binding referendum took place in northern Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas, including areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

The referendum, which was boycotted by Turkmens and Arabs, was held in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah provinces, the contested province of Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu district in the Saladin province and Khanaqin district in Diyala province.

Turkey, the US, Iran and the UN warned that the vote would distract from operations against Daesh and lead to greater instability in the region.

Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.

The KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a Yes win would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.

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