Voting has finished in Afghanistan’s presidential elections. Millions have turned out across the country to cast their ballots, in defiance of the threat of attacks on polling stations by the Taliban. The run-up to the vote was marred by violence as insurgents sought to derail the election and there were further sporadic attacks cross the country today.
Going into the election President Hamid Karzai was the favourite to top the poll, but it was far from clear if he would win by enough to avoid a run-off election. He faces an unexpectedly strong challenge from former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. The pair may face each other in another ballot, most likely in October. While the Taliban has gained ground over the past year a successful election would be seen by the West as a major setback in their attempts to hold sway over the country. Preliminary results are not expected for at least two weeks.