Karzai urges Afghans, including Taliban, to vote

Afghan President calls on Taliban who are the "sons" of Afghanistan to vote.

Kabul: President Hamid Karzai on Friday called on all Afghans, including Taliban militants, to vote in the country`s Parliamentary Election at the weekend.

"We hope that our people in every corner of our country, in every city of our country and every province will go to polling stations and vote for their favourite candidate and through the vote lead our country to further stability," he said.

Speaking to reporters at his palace, he urged voters not to be swayed by gifts from candidates but to vote "from their hearts" and called on "those Taliban who are the sons of this country" to participate in the election.

Karzai was speaking ahead tomorrow`s election, in which more than 2,500 candidates are standing for 249 seats in the lower house of Parliament, the Wolesi Jirga.

The Taliban, after nearly nine years of insurgency, have threatened to attack polling stations, electoral workers and security forces, and have said that voters -- although not the target -- will "get hurt" if they try to vote.

The Islamists have already killed three candidates, and on Friday claimed responsibility for kidnapping Abdul Rahman Hayat, a candidate from eastern Lagman province.

In northwestern Bagdhis province, eight election officials and 10 campaign workers were kidnapped late yesterday in raids which local officials blamed on the Taliban.