The considerable turnout in Iraq's constitutional referendum demonstrates the Iraqi people's determination to take their fate into their own hands, Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said Sunday.
Plassnik said Iraqis were courageous to vote despite the difficult circumstances and lack of security. Initial estimates put turnout in Saturday's referendum at 61 percent, AP reported.
The vote "marks another important step in Iraq's political transformation process," Plassnik said in a statement.
"Austria's and the EU's goal is a more secure, more stable and unified Iraq, where democracy and prosperity reins, and where human rights are respected; (an Iraq) that is sovereign and works constructively with its neighbors and the global community," Plassnik said.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building