On Friday Iraq began sealing its borders, halting air traffic and ordering overnight curfews in some of its largest cities on the eve of its nationwide provincial elections.

Additional security measures include ordering traffic bans across Bagdad and closing the southern city of Basra. Hundreds of women, including teachers and civic workers, have been recruited to help search women voters following a rise in the number of female suicide bombers last year.

There are 440 seats for which more than 14,400 candidates are competing in 14 of the country's 18 provinces.

The polls open Saturday across Iraq at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT, 11 p.m. Friday EST) and close at 5 p.m. Saturday (1400 GMT, 9 a.m. EST). Results should take several days to be released.

Police officer Col. Safaa Abdul-Razzaq, told AP, boundaries of the northern city of Mosul were closed Friday morning to vehicles and a citywide curfew was scheduled to take effect several hours later.

Residents in Ninevah province were barred from leaving their homes until they go to cast their ballot.

According to Abdul-Razzaq, the curfew was imposed to curb any potential violence during voting in Iraq's third largest city. The vehicle ban is in place in Mosul until Sunday.

Border crossings between Iraq and Iran have also been sealed, and the southern city of Basra was to be sealed from Friday night until Sunday morning, said Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf.

The air and land borders will be sealed, but there will be no restriction on people's movements within the city, Khalaf said to AP reporters.

Most other cities are expected to take the same measures by late Friday.

The U.S. military is taking a sideline role in direct security for the elections, but plan to send heavy troop deployments into the streets during the voting.

The city closures came a day after attacks left three candidates dead across Iraq, including a candidate in Mosul who was killed by gunmen firing from a passing car.