Taliban threaten to attack Afghan polling stations

Taliban vowed to attack Afghan polling to be held in September 18.

Last Updated: Sep 05, 2010, 23:31 PM IST

Kabul: The Taliban vowed on Sunday to attack
polling places in September 18 parliamentary elections,
warning Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham
vote.

Meanwhile, two coalition soldiers - at least one of
them British - were killed in fighting in the turbulent south,
while a political rival of President Hamid Karzai questioned
his approach to pending talks with rebels who might be
persuaded to abandon the insurgency.

The threat issued today comes just under two weeks
before the vote and follows the announcement of a final list
of polling places to be opened around the country.

"It is only to the benefit of foreigners who want
to maintain their existence in the country by holding such a
process and we believe that the people will not get any
benefit out of it," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told
The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

"That`s why we announced to the local people that
all Afghan people should boycott this election and they should
not participate on the polling date," Mujahid said.

The Taliban position is consistent with those it
has taken in the past. The insurgents seek to topple the
government in Kabul and drive foreign troops from the country,
and have boycotted or sought to sabotage all aspects of the
political process.

Taliban threats and intimidation drove down voter
turnout in last year`s fraud-marred presidential election,
especially in rural areas where security is harder to ensure,
and many Afghans this time say they won`t vote for fear of
attacks.

Election officials plan to open 5,897 voting sites,
having discarded more than 900 locations because of security
concerns. Last year, 6,167 voting centers nominally operated.

Voters will choose 249 members of the lower house
of parliament from among more than 2,500 candidates, including
dozens of women.

Afghanistan`s government and its foreign partners
say they hope the elections will further consolidate the
country`s shaky democracy and put it on a path toward
long-term political stability, allowing the withdrawal of the
roughly 140,000 NATO-led foreign troops in the country.

PTI