Afghanistan fears bloodshed on eve of presidential, council elections

Election workers gather polling materials at the Friday Mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, Wednesday. AP

Ahead of tomorrow's presidential and provincial council polls, authorities have been battling to reassure voters that it will be safe to visit polling centres as US and allied forces step up their anti-insurgency offensive.

But a suicide bomber and rocket strikes on the capital on Tuesday escalated tensions in the final run-up to the election, which western-backed President Hamid Karzai hopes to win by a big enough margin to avert a run-off vote.

"It (security) is of concern but to get free of this situation, we must cast our vote," said a 25-year-old Kabul woman employed by an international company who gave her name only as Massouda.

Others said the risks were not worth it.

"I will not let my family to go and vote in such a bad situation," said Abdul Qadir, a 40-year-old cigarette seller in Kabul where yesterday's suicide blast killed a NATO soldier and nine Afghans, two of them UN staffers.

"We should elect our president -- one that all the nation will be happy with," said Haji Mohammad from the nearby province of Logar. But he added: "If election day is bad, I will not let the family vote."

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