November 02, 2009
Taliban Escalate Attacks on Kabul Two Days Before Presidential Election
Eight people died, including two Afghan staff members of the United
Nations and at least one foreign soldier, while more than 50 other
people were wounded, in the latest wave of Taliban violence around
Kabul. The insurgents, who are vowing to disrupt Thursday's national
election, have escalated strikes on the capital and other parts of the
The Taliban attacked in the capital area again
Tuesday, attempting to make good on a vow to disrupt this week's
A suicide bomber rammed his
explosive-laden vehicle into a supply convoy of foreign forces on a
busy highway on the eastern outskirts of Kabul.
came just hours after a pair of rockets fell harmlessly between the
Presidential Palace and the Defense Ministry - the latest targeting of
the most secure area of the Afghan capital.
The latest Taliban suicide bombing took a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, including children.
Jawed Ahmad was nearby. He says the force of the blast collapsed his
shop while he was standing inside but he managed to walk away. He says
he saw many bodies around his damaged shop.
province, officials say, a suicide bomber attacked a polling station,
killing four Afghan soldiers and two civilians. And the U.S. military
command here says two American soldiers were killed when their vehicle
struck a bomb in the eastern part of the country.
A suicide car bomb at the gates of NATO's headquarters here Saturday killed seven people and injured nearly 100.
top U.N. official based in the country, Kai Eide, says security is his
main concern for election day. He says a lack of security will increase
the chances of voting irregularities.
"There will be
irregularities but I do believe that they will not be at the level that
will put in doubt the credibility of the elections themselves," he said.
chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission is appealing to
Afghanistan's 17 million eligible voters to defy the Taliban. He says
those who go to the polls will be "voting against violence."
A similar sentiment is being expressed by U.S. Senator John McCain on a visit here with three of his colleagues.
The former U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate, condemns the Taliban intimidation of voters.
very little doubt that the Taliban are doing everything in their power
to try to prevent people from voting - threats of cutting someone's
hand if they exercise their democratic right," he said.
main contest, the incumbent, Mr. Hamid Karzai, is hoping to fend off
several dozen challengers to capture a second five-year term as
Afghanistan's government has declared Thursday a "Day of Peace" for the balloting.
NATO-led International Security Assistance Force force has suspended
combat operations against the Taliban during the election week.
of the visiting U.S. senators, former Democratic Party vice
presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, says the politicians received a
sobering assessment during their tour here from top commanders
concerning the fight against the Taliban.
"This is a difficult
and challenging moment. And in some senses looking at the battlefield
nationally, the momentum is slightly in the direction of the Taliban.
That's what we've heard," he said.
For the election, some
300,000 Afghan and international troops and police officers, are tasked
with protecting 29,000 polling stations, with what the government
describes as a four-tier ring of security.