Kandahar goes to the polls in Afghan parliamentary vote delayed by violence

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The parliamentary election, which was more than three years late and the third since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, is seen as a dry run for next year's presidential vote.

Two days before the elections last weekend, General Abdul Razeq was assassinated by one of the security guards of Kandahar Governor Zalmai Wesa.

Zalmai Wesa was seriously hurt in the October 18 attack that killed provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq and also targeted the commander of USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, who escaped unhurt.

The Taliban and the Islamic State had earlier threatened to disrupt the Parliamentary elections and had warned citizens against participating in the polls.

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The vote in Kandahar had been delayed by a week after the murder, on October 18, the controversial but respected provincial chief of police, general Abdul Raziq, a man of a strong anti-taliban regarded him as a bulwark against the insurgency in the south.

In view of the challenging security environment in which the elections took place, the United Nations commends the many Afghans for their participation and recognizes the expectations citizens now have that the electoral authorities will ensure that their votes are counted and that any fraudulent ballots will be weeded out.

In the shooting, the police officer who shot the attacker was killed and two police officers with 4 polling staff were injured, he added.

The incident happened at about 8:15am local time in PD9 in Kabul city, a spokesman for Kabul police chief confirmed.

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That was significantly higher than the government's casualty figures, supporting speculation that officials had deliberately downplayed the violence so voters would not be scared off.

The election is seen as a dry run for next year's presidential vote and an important milestone in advance of a United Nations meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes".

Preliminary results of nationwide voting for Afghanistan's 249-seat Parliament are not expected before mid-November.

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