Afghans vote in parliamentary elections gripped by insecurity

Afghans vote in parliamentary elections gripped by insecurity
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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Taliban militants have told people not to take part in what they consider a foreign-imposed process and warning election centres may be attacked.


Voting in Afghanistan's parliamentary elecctions has been marred by violence and clashes between the Taliban and security forces.

Several security incidents marred the polling day on Saturday, with three police killed and at least eight people wounded by explosions in Kabul. Clashes erupted between the Taliban and the security forces in at least three provinces.

Voting in the southern province of Kandahar was postponed after the police chief was assassinated on Thursday and nationwide around thirty percent of polling stations couldn't open due to security fears.

Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed across the country but already nine candidates have been assassinated and hundreds of people killed and wounded in election-related attacks.

As with previous votes in Afghanistan there have also been many reports of election fraud.

Biometric machines at polling stations were supposed to minimise it but many of them failed to work, frustrating would-be voters.

In some constituencies voting was extended into Sunday.

Some 8.8 million voters have been registered but an unknown number, by some estimates as many as 50 percent or more, are believed to be fraudulently or incorrectly registered.

About 2,450 candidates are competing for places in the lower house, which has 250 seats, including one reserved for a candidate from the Sikh minority.

With Taliban insurgents controlling large parts of the country, thousands being killed in the fighting and doubts about the success of the U.S. strategy to force the insurgents to accept peace talks by stepping up air strikes, the credibility of the Western-backed government is at stake.

Afghan politics is still tainted by the aftermath of a disputed presidential vote in 2014 that forced the two main rival groupings to form an unstable partnership. Both sides were accused of massive electoral cheating.

Next year the more important presidential election is schedued.

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