IRAQ

Heavy security greets election day

Iraq voted Wednesday in its first nationwide election since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confident of victory and even offering an olive branch to his critics by inviting them to join him in a governing coalition. The election was held amid a massive security operation, with hundreds of thousands of troops and police deployed across the country to protect polling centers and voters. Scattered attacks took place north and west of Baghdad, killing at least five people and wounding 16. Roadside bombs killed two women and two election workers in the northern town of Dibis.

UKRAINE

Acting president bemoans unrest

Ukraine’s acting president conceded Wednesday that his police and security forces were “helpless” to stifle unrest in the country’s east, where pro-Russia gunmen seized more buildings, walking into the police station and mayor’s office in this mining hub without resistance. Insurgents also took control of the customs service building in Donetsk, the region’s main city, and city hall in Alchevsk, an industrial center of about 110,000.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Sinn Fein chief questioned in killing

Sinn Fein chief Gerry Adams, the warlord-turned-peacemaker of the Northern Ireland conflict, was being interrogated Thursday over the grisly slaying of a Belfast widow that has haunted his political career for decades. Adams was arrested on suspicion of ordering the killing of Jean McConville, a mother of 10 in his Catholic west Belfast power base in 1972.

CANADA

Toronto mayor takes personal leave

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will take a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse, his lawyer said Wednesday. Dennis Morris said he spoke to Ford earlier Wednesday and said Ford has accepted that he has a problem. Ford acknowledged last year after months of denials that he smoked crack in a “drunken stupor” after police said they obtained a video that appears to show him smoking crack.

Compiled from wire reports.