Taliban vow to bomb polling booths

The Times of India… KANDAHAR: The Taliban on Sunday threatened for the first time to attack Afghan polling stations, escalating their bid to derail key elections this week after striking Nato in the heart of Kabul. The threat was made in leaflets, dropped in villages in the south, and authenticated by a Taliban spokesman who said the militia would accelerate its bloody campaign of violence on the eve of polls.

“This is to inform respected residents that you must not take part in the polls so as not to become a victim of our operations, because we will use new tactics,” said one leaflet distributed in Kandahar. “All people are being informed that you must not rent out property to voting centres and if anyone did — even after elections — they may face problems”, they said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi confirmed the leaflets were authentic and that commanders were ordering the masses to boycott the vote. The leaflets marked the first direct threat from the rebels to attack polling sites.

The leaflets came even as supporters of the candidates came out in their thousands on Sunday. In his regional power base in the north, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, President Hamid Karzai’s main challenger, was mobbed by thousands of supporters who stormed a gate to surge into the compound where his helicopter touched down.

He was hoisted onto a pickup truck and driven through the town of Taloqan, surrounded by crowds of adoring supporters. “I told the crowd we have already won,” Abdullah said.

Karzai disappointed thousands of people in the southern city of Kandahar who were hoping he would make an appearance at a rally addressed by one of his half-brothers, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Kandahar’s provincial council chief. Kandahar is Karzai’s home town as well as the heartland of the Taliban, whose fighters have vowed to disrupt the poll with attacks.

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