Afghans prepare to vote amid intense security
Thursday, April 03, 2014
MAZAR-I SHARIF, Afghanistan - Thousands of soldiers are being deployed across Afghanistan amid fears of attacks by the Taliban as the nation prepares to vote in presidential and provincial council elections, military officials have said.
Commander General Zolmay Varsa announced on Thursday that 7,000 reinforcing soldiers had been deployed in nine provinces ahead of election day on Saturday, while 5,000 more would guard polling stations on the day against any Taliban raids. Undercover police officers and air forces will also provide support, he said.
Afghanistan North and Northeast Border Commander Mohammed Zaman Mamuzei told Anadolu Agency: "April 5 is a very important day for Afghanistan's future. We will not allow the Taliban and foreign intelligence services to sabotage the elections."
"No one has the right to interfere in our country's internal affairs. Afghan people will choose the new president in line with their own will," he added.
The Taliban has called on voters to boycott the election and has threatened to stage attacks.
- Voters fingers cut off
The elections mark the end of President Hamid Karzai's 13 years as leader of Afghanistan, as he cannot run for a third term under Afghan law.
The majority of the 70,000 polling stations across the country are set to vote, despite Taliban warnings that they will target everyone who attends election campaigns, works for the election commission and participates in the election.
Taliban attacks have killed dozens of people in the last month.
The Taliban are alleged to have attacked voting centres and cut the fingers of people who went to the polls, during previous elections in 2005 and 2009.
The Taliban have never recognized the Karzai government, describing it as "a puppet of the U.S.", and claim a new president will already have been determined by Washington.
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