Karzai praises Afghans for defying election threats | world | Hindustan Times
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Karzai praises Afghans for defying election threats

world Updated: Aug 20, 2009 20:58 IST
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President Hamid Karzai thanked Afghans for defying insurgent threats and voting in landmark elections on Thursday, hailing a "day of pride and glory" for the country.

In a live television address as polling wound down, Karzai said there had been 73 incidents of violence in 15 provinces during the day, some of which had caused casualties to police and civilians.

But Afghans had still gone to the polls, he said.

"The Afghan people dared rockets, bombs and intimidations and came out to vote. We will see what the turnout was. But they came out to vote -- that's great," he said.

Officials had yet to say how many of the 17 million registered voters had cast their ballots but some observers feared turnout was low, especially in the south where the Taliban insurgency is the most fierce.

Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said there had been more 130 incidents of violence during the day. Asked if a low turnout would undermine the legitimacy of the elections, the president said: "No."

"Once again I thank the Afghan people for making this day a day of pride and glory for Afghanistan," he said.

Karzai, who is the frontrunner tipped to win the election, praised "the Afghan nation who went to polling stations with strong determination and voted, enduring rocket attacks, destructive attacks, bombs, suicide attacks".