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Millions of Afghans vote, defy Taliban threats
Updated: 2005-09-19 06:50

KABUL - Taliban fighters failed to sabotage Afghanistan's first legislative elections in decades, with millions of voters turning out on Sunday for a ballot President Hamid Karzai called a defining moment for the nation. Reuters reported.

Afghan nomads wait at a polling station on the outskirts of Kabul September 18, 2005.
Afghan nomads wait at a polling station on the outskirts of Kabul September 18, 2005. [Reuters]
There was no major violence against voters, despite more than two dozen harassing attacks by the guerrillas across the troubled south and east in which at least 14 people died.

"We're building our country, we're making our parliament," said Mohammed Twahir, 36, after voting in the southern city of Kandahar, once a bastion of support for the Taliban.

"Before there was no democracy, now we have democracy. Democracy means freedom."

That enthusiasm was echoed by many other voters.

"I'm so happy, I couldn't sleep last night and was watching the clock to come out to vote," said Qari Salahuddin, 21, in the eastern city of Jalalabad soon after voting began.

There was an early scare in Kabul when two rockets hit a U.N. compound near an election center shortly after polls opened, wounding an Afghan worker.

Most of the fatalities occured in violence near the Pakistani border, just before and during the U.N.-organised vote.

Rockets and mortars killed at least five civilians, two of them children, and a mine blast killed a French soldier. A Taliban fighter died attacking a polling station overnight and three more were killed in a clash in which two policemen died.
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