Low turnout seen in Afghan election; 26 killed | world | Hindustan Times
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Low turnout seen in Afghan election; 26 killed

Millions of Afghans defied threats to cast ballots in the country's second national elections since Taliban rule, but turnout appeared weaker this time because of continuing violence, fear and disenchantment.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2009 15:35 IST

Millions of Afghans defied threats to cast ballots in the country's second national elections since Taliban rule, but turnout appeared weaker this time because of continuing violence, fear and disenchantment.

In much of the Taliban's southern strongholds, many people did not dare to vote, bolstering the hopes of President Hamid Karzai's chief rival.

At least 26 people were killed in election-related violence, fewer than had been feared.
Officials began counting millions of ballots as soon as the polls closed at 5 pm after a one-hour extension. First preliminary results weren't expected for several days, and some major candidates were already alleging fraud.

A top election official, Zekria Barakzai said that he estimated 40 percent to 50 percent of the country's 15 million registered voters cast ballots, far lower than the 70 percent who voted in the presidential election in 2004.

Nevertheless, many Afghans did vote, some at great risk to their lives. Many waited until midday to see whether the Taliban would carry through with threats to attack polling stations. Some proudly showed off the ink on their index fingers to prove they had voted.