NATO, Afghan troops on maximum alert for vote
Last Updated: Thursday, August 20, 2009, 13:39
Deh Rahwood: A massive Afghan and multinational force of 300,000 went on full alert to safeguard voting and prevent the Taliban from unleashing a threatened onslaught.

As polling stations opened for Afghanistan's presidential and provincial elections, small explosions and rocket attacks were reported nationwide, including several in the capital Kabul.

But by mid-morning there was no substantial damage or serious casualties, officials said.

Around 200,000 Afghan troops, intelligence agents and policemen fronted the security operation, manning polling stations and security checkpoints that lined the streets of major cities.

Around 100,000 NATO and US-led troops were meanwhile on alert nationwide, having battled for months to secure the rugged country's most hostile areas so that 17 million registered voters could make their way to the polls.

"We have been doing an immense amount of work to try and ensure the best possible security for the elections," Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, the deputy commander of the NATO-led force drawn from about 40 nations, told.

"Of course the real test is election day," the British general added.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, August 20, 2009, 13:39

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