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Violence threatens polls in 10 districts

Video by Gulliver CRAGG

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-08-11

Following the Taliban killing of five Afghan police just south of Kabul, the presidential and provincial elections in Afghanistan on August 20 cannot take place in 10 districts unless circumstances change, officials say.

Taliban activists and suicide bombers killed five police on Monday, in an attack on public buildings in the south of Kabul.


Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said six fighters wearing vests packed with explosives had attacked the governor’s office, police headquarters and election offices in Pule Alam, 70 kilometres from Kabul.


Mujahid said that primary targets included the office of the governor, the police, local electoral offices and a post office.


Pule Alam police said that three of the killers died in the attack, and two were arrested.


Abdul Rahim, an aid worker in an office next to the police building, said five police were killed and 26 people wounded. He said at least three of the attackers were dressed in burqas, the head-to-toe covering worn by some Afghan women.


As the presidential and provincial elections approach, the security question has become top priority for Afghan officials as well as for the international community. Violence reached a fever pitch in recent weeks, especially since July 30, when the Taliban called upon Afghanis to boycott the elections and take up arms in a spirit of jihad against “foreign invaders.”


If the situation does not improve, 93 voting bureaus would be closed in ten discricts, according to Zekria Barakzai, deputy head of the nation’s Independent Electoral Commission.


Said Barakzai, “The comission cannot do anything unless the elections can take place in a peaceful environment.”


He added that the final list of zones where the elections will go on as scheduled would be published on August 15.


Afghanistan has over 300 districts spread over 34 provinces.


International and Afghan troops have been battling to chase the Taliban and other insurgents from the regions under their control, especially those in the south of the nation.



Date created : 2009-08-10