BAGHDAD- Polling stations opened in Iraq on Sunday for a parliamentary election seen as crucial to the future of a country seeking stability after years of bloodshed.

Nearly 19 million eligible voters will choose which of some 6,200 candidates will gain seats in the 325-member assembly.

Voting centres across Iraq are due to stay open until 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) unless polling hours are extended.

(Reporting by Baghdad bureau; Editing by Michael Christie and Alistair Lyon)