Taliban vow to attack Afghan elections on polling day

"All the roads leading to polling centers will come under attack and election workers and security forces will be our primary targets," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP.

More than 2,500 candidates are contesting the election on Saturday for the 249 seats in the lower house of parliament in the second poll of its kind since the Taliban were ousted from power in a 2001 US-led invasion. "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 centers they will get hurt." The militants have already killed three candidates and dozens of election workers in the lead-up to the poll.
"We have repeatedly asked civilians and we again ask them to avoid election centers and all the roads leading to polling centers," Mujahid said.

"We will also attack the roads between cities and districts since election workers and government workers will be traveling on these roads to get to polling centers," he said.
The Taliban in an earlier emailed statement called on Afghans to boycott Saturday's poll.

"We call on our Muslim nation to boycott this process and thus foil all foreign processes and drive away the invaders from your country by sticking to jihad and Islamic resistance," it said. The militants issued threats last month saying anyone associated with the vote was a target.

Voting is set to take place at more than 5,800 polling centers across Afghanistan, though more than 1,000 will not open because security cannot be guaranteed, according to the Independent Election Commission.

Those polling centers are in nine districts that officials have said remain under Taliban control. The militants have been fighting the Kabul government since their own brutal five-year regime was overthrown. The United States and NATO have 150,000 troops in Afghanistan trying to bring the insurgency to an end.

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