U.S. happy with Iraq vote turnout, security: Gates

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (BestGrowthStock) – Iraqi voter turnout was as “high if not higher” than expected, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday, as he praised Iraqi security forces for appearing to have prevented al Qaeda from staging more deadly election-related attacks.

“The Iraq security forces have performed superbly. And the turnout is as high if not higher than earlier expectations. So all in all, a good day for the Iraqis and for all of us,” Gates told reporters, citing information he had received from the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno.

Gates said Odierno had expected “a significant number of high profile attacks, both suicide vests and truck and car bombs.”

“But the security situation and the efforts of the Iraqi security forces are such that al Qaeda in Iraq were forced to change their tactics and apparently, particularly in the Baghdad area, they used a number of what (Odierno) called bottle noise bombs.”

About 80 percent of the explosions heard in Baghdad on Sunday morning were believed to be bottle noise bombs, he said. He also denied media reports of mortar attacks in Baghdad, saying: “There have been no confirmed indirect fire attacks in the city.”

Investing Advice

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; editing by Paul Simao)

U.S. happy with Iraq vote turnout, security: Gates