Taliban threaten to attack Afghanistan's election
The Taliban threatened yesterday to attack polling stations during Afghanistan's parliamentary election as Nato and Afghan troops mounted a massive security operation to protect the vote.
Tens of thousands of Afghan and US-led Nato forces will provide security for tomorrow's vote, seen as a crucial step to building democracy after nine years of war but which many fear will be marred by fraud and violence.
"All the roads leading to polling centres will come under attack and election workers and security forces will be our primary targets," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP.
"Civilians are not our target because we support local people and we have local support," he said, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location.
"But if people go to polling centres they will get hurt."
The militants have already killed three candidates and dozens of election workers in the lead-up to the poll.
The Independent Election Commission said all preparations for the vote would be complete by Friday, after campaigning ended Wednesday.
The wave of targeted violence and intimidation against parliamentary candidates and supporters has catapulted security to the top of concerns surrounding the vote.
Around 10.5 million Afghans are eligible to vote for the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga, in the second poll of its kind since the Taliban were ousted in the 2001 US-led invasion.
Despite some calls for the election to be cancelled because of poor security and the spread of the insurgency to once relatively stable areas, Afghan and Western officials said an imperfect vote would be better than none at all.
The ballot is being held more than a year after the fraud-tainted election that returned Western-backed President Hamid Karzai to power for a second five-year term.