|Suspected Taleban insurgents have killed seven Afghan men, allegedly for carrying voter registration cards for next Sunday's elections. The killings come despite heightened security ahead of the vote, considered a crucial step in establishing a functioning democracy in Afghanistan.|
More than 30,000 troops from the United States and other NATO countries are patrolling Afghanistan, in an attempt to prevent Sunday's elections from being disrupted.
U.S. Army Sergeant John Munroy says his patrol visited a school near Bagram Air Base to become familiar with the area in case of any violence.
"We came here today to assess this school, which is going to be used as a polling site during the elections. We came to make sure the buildings are going to be acceptable for the amount of people who are coming."
Supporters of the ousted Taleban government have threatened to disrupt the elections, considered the next key step toward establishing democracy in Afghanistan.
Around 12 million people have registered to vote for new provincial councils and members of the national parliament.
As a U.S. State Department video shows, candidates' names will appear on the ballot along with a photo and symbol to help voters identify them.
Insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent months, killing several pro-democracy figures and issuing death threats to some of the women candidates.
Still, most of Afghanistan's parliamentary candidates are undeterred by the violence.
Candidate Nima Suratgar Furmoli, a professor at Kabul University says, "We shouldn't worry about the problems too much. If we think about them too much, we'll make more problems and we won't progress. My personal view is that this (election) is the only way for us to find a path to democracy and to the rebuilding of our country and to the creation of a really stable Afghanistan."
Earlier this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on foreign supporters not to turn their backs on his country after Sunday's elections are over.
He appealed to the international community; "We want the international community to continue its help after we have our parliament in place, especially its financial help. They should continue and increase their technical and financial help to Afghanistan until the success we have achieved is complete."
Mr. Karzai says it will be years before Afghanistan can go it alone without foreign troops.