The Republic of Iraq has been rocked by a major round of violence as the country enters its first election period since the withdrawal of US forces in 2011. A suicide bombing at a popular café in Baghdad killed dozens and resulted in a large number of injuries, and pre-election violence has resulted in the deaths of fourteen candidates throughout the country. Nevertheless, the elections have gone ahead and violence has failed to prevent Iraqi voters from turning out to cast ballots for provincial representatives, although major Sunni demonstrations mean that voting has been suspended in the provinces of Anbar and Nineweh. Iraq has also come under heat from the United Nations this week for the increasing number of executions that are being carried out by the justice ministry, with 21 people hanged on April 17 alone. (April 19, 2013 France 24; April 19, 2013 New York Times; April 20, 2013 Reuters)