Afghan Polls Close; Taliban Attacks Dampen Turnout

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2009 9:55 AM CDT
A voter casts her ballot at a polling center in Herat, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. Afghans head to the polls to elect the new president for the second time in the country's history.   (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)
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(Newser) – With polls now closed, Taliban threats appeared to have dampened voter turnout in the militant south in today's Afghanistan election. Insurgents launched scattered rocket, suicide, and bomb attacks that closed some polling sites. After 10 hours of voting, including a last-minute, one-hour extension, election workers began to count the millions of ballots cast across the country. Initial results aren't expected until Saturday.

Security companies in Kabul reported at least five bomb attacks, while police exchanged fire for more than an hour with a group of armed men. A voting official in Kandahar, the south's largest city and the Taliban's spiritual birthplace, said voting appeared to be 40% lower than during the country's 2004 presidential election. That's bad news for Hamid Karzai, whose support is stronger in the south.