Afghans vote amid violence

10 killed in Taliban attack

Voters appeared hesitant to go to polling stations after a series of rocket strikes in provincial centres across the country, including one which landed near the US embassy and the headquarters of Nato-led forces in central Kabul about three hours before polls opened at 7 am (0230 GMT).

Officials reported violence across the country. In the worst attack, police said the Taliban killed one Afghan soldier and six pro-government militiamen in a raid on a security outpost next to a polling station in northern Baghlan province.

Significant security failures would be a major setback, with Washington watching closely before US President Barack Obama conducts a war strategy review in December likely to examine the pace and scale of US troop withdrawals. A poll flawed by violence would also weigh on Obama when his administration faces mid-term Congressional elections in November amid sagging public support for the war, with violence at its worst levels since the Taliban were ousted. Saturday’s election followed a similar pattern to last year’s flawed 2009, which the Taliban also threatened but failed to disrupt.

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