Taliban threatens to attack Afghan polling places

By Rahim Faiez and Christopher Bodeen-Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan | The Taliban vowed Sunday to attack polling places in Sept. 18 parliamentary elections, warning Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.

Meanwhile, two coalition troops, one British and one from the Republic of Georgia, 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 Sunday 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,” Mr. 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.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/sep/5/taliban-threatens-to-attack-afghan-polling-places/

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