Campaigning has officially begun in Iraq for the country's upcoming March 7 general election.

The first official campaign posters were plastered across Baghdad Friday.

Campaigning opened amid simmering tensions over the decision to ban a number of Sunni Muslim candidates because of alleged ties to late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has tried to purge former Ba'athists from top positions.  Analysts say the effort could re-ignite sectarian tensions between majority Shi'ite Muslims and Sunnis, who dominated Iraq under Saddam.

As campaigning began, the U.S. military said five people were killed during a joint raid with Iraqi forces in a village near the Iranian border.  It said those killed were suspected militants, but a provincial council member told the Associated Press they were civilians.  No further information was immediately available.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Special Project

More Coverage