Afghan Taliban to Disrupt Vote 03/10 07:28
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban on Monday warned Afghans against
taking part in the upcoming presidential election and ordered their fighters to
"use all force" possible to disrupt the polling in the militant group's first
formal threat of violence over the April 5 vote.
Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed to media that the
Taliban are also telling clerics across to country to spread the word that the
election is "an American conspiracy."
The April vote is seen as key to Afghanistan's stability ahead of the final
withdrawal of international combat troops at the end of December. Previous
elections have been fraught with allegations of widespread fraud and some
surveys have shown a deep mistrust among most Afghans toward the polling and
candidates. President Hamid Karzai is not in the race since he cannot run for a
Monday's Taliban statement told Afghans they should "reject completely" the
election and not put themselves in danger by going to the polls.
Mujahid did not specify what kind of attacks the Taliban planned but in the
2009 presidential election, the militants assaulted and killed election
workers, targeted candidates and also attacked voters, in some cases cutting
people's fingers off.
"We have given orders to all our mujahedeen (holy warriors) to use all force
at their disposal to disrupt these upcoming sham election to target all its
workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices," the statement
It also warned the government against using public buildings, such as
mosques and schools, for polling.
The Taliban statement was expected and it followed several election-related
attacks since the start of the election campaign.
Last month, a campaign worker of a presidential front-runner, candidate
Abdullah Abdullah, was shot and killed in Afghanistan's western Herat province.
Also in Herat, a suicide bomber recently attacked Ismail Khan, who is running
on the ticket as first vice-president to presidential candidate and powerful
warlord Abdul Rasoul Sayyaf.
And in northern Kunduz province, a member of the Independent Election
Commission was also shot and killed. The Taliban have taken responsibility for
all the election campaign-related attacks, which occurred over the past month.
The interior ministry previously said there may be some polling stations in
the restive south of Afghanistan that might not open because of security
concerns. No numbers were given.
Meanwhile, a bomb hidden in a motorcycle was remotely detonated on Monday,
killing two local policemen in the western Herat province, said Raouf Ahmadi,
the provincial police spokesman. Another two policemen were wounded in the
bombing, he said.
No one immediately took responsibility for the attack but Ahmadi said police
suspect the Taliban, who routinely attack the security forces, were behind the
Karzai became president after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
His former foreign minister, Zalmai Rassoul, is considered to be a front runner
inthe presidential race. A soft-spoken ethnic Pashtun, Rassoul is known as a
loyalist to former King Zahir Shah, who ruled the country for 40 years.
A 1973 coup toppled Shah and in later years, the Soviet Union would invade
the country, sparking a bloody insurgency. Warlords then took over parts of
Afghanistan until the rise of the Taliban in 1996.
Rassoul has come out in favor of Afghanistan signing a Bilateral Security
Agreement with the United States, which would allow for a residual U.S. and
NATO force of up to 15,000 soldiers to remain behind after the final withdrawal
of foreign combat troops.
Karzai has so far refused to sign the agreement.