BAGHDAD (Agencies) Millions of Iraqis braved waves of deadly rocket, mortar and bomb attacks that killed 38 to vote Sunday in a general election seen as a test of the war-shattered nations young democracy. We dont care about the bombs. The people will vote, said Abbas Hussein, jangling a set of brown prayer beads with his index finger coated in purple ink, signalling he had voted in his Sunni district of Baghdad. Election officials in Iraq have begun counting the votes. Authorities imposed a curfew Baghdad after the polls closed on Sunday to ensure the safe transportation of the ballots from election centres to the election commissions main counting offices. US President Barack Obama paid tribute to the courage of Iraqis who defied threats to advance their democracy by casting ballots. I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today, Obama said in his first reaction to the crucial vote. His comments came after polls closed at the end of a warm spring day that saw long queues at polling stations in Baghdad, in Sunni towns that mostly boycotted the 2005 parliamentary vote, and elsewhere across the country. Polls closed at 5:00pm (9:00am EST), ending 10 hours of balloting in which 19 million people were eligible to take part. Regional officials for the Independent High Electoral Commission said in initial forecasts that voter turnout was 50pc or more in all but one of the 12 provinces it was able to provide figures for. Full election results were not expected until March 18, and after that it will likely take months of horse-trading before a new government is formed as no single political bloc is set to emerge dominant from the vote. Baghdad bore the brunt of Sundays violence, with around 70 mortars raining down on mostly Sunni areas as people voted in the second parliamentary ballot since US-led forces ousted dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. The cities of Fallujah, Baquba, Samarra and several other areas were also hit by mortar rounds or bombs, many of them exploding near polling stations. Twenty-five of the dead perished when a rocket flattened a residential building in the north of the capital, and all the other deaths were in or near the city. A total of 110 people were injured in the attacks which came despite 200,000 police and soldiers deployed in Baghdad and hundreds of thousands more across the country. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the attacks are only noise to impress voters but Iraqis are a people who love challenges and you will see that this will not damage their morale. Khaled Abdallah, 35, was one of the thousands who queued up in the Sunni bastion of Fallujah to cast his ballot. My vote today is a defiance of Al-Qaeda, he told AFP. Maliki, the Shia head of the State of Law Alliance, is bidding to become the first Iraqi voted back into office at the will of the people who for decades had no choice but Saddams Baath Party. His rivals include Iyad Allawi, a Shia former prime minister who heads the Iraqiya list, a rival secular coalition that has strong support in Sunni areas. Also seeking the top job are Ahmed Chalabi, a former deputy premier once favoured but now loathed by Washington; Adel Abdel Mahdi, the countrys Shia vice-president; and Baqer Jaber Solagh, the finance minister. Chalabi, Mahdi and Solagh all represent the Iraq National Alliance, the main Shiite religious list. Although violence is at a post-invasion low, attacks occur almost daily in Baghdad and other hotspots.