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Afghanistan Election Results On Hold for at Least Two Days

Afghanistan's voters are going to have to wait a bit longer to receive further results of ballot counting from last week's presidential election.

Results from Afghanistan's disputed presidential election are in a further state of limbo. The organization tabulating the votes says no further returns will be made public until Saturday, at the earliest.

The Independent Election Commission has announced no reason for the delay. But one official with the IEC acknowledges the counting is proceeding slower than expected because of computer software glitches.

The senior project officer for the team in Kabul from Democracy International, Bill Gallery, tells VOA News this should not be a cause for alarm.

"We are not super concerned about a couple days delay," he said. "We have been looking at the numbers released so far and there is some information there to use. We would be worried if they delayed any further. But I think this could just be an administrative issue."

It has been one week since the election. Results from only 17 percent of the polling stations have been released. Those returns show incumbent President Hamid Karzai with 43 percent of the vote. His closest rival among a long list of challengers, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has 34 percent.

Mr. Karzai will need more than 50 percent of the total to avoid a run-off election next month.

A number of the contenders have alleged widespread irregularities. The Election Complaints Commission, partly appointed by the United Nations, says it is prioritizing dozens of serious allegations for investigation.

Violence involving Taliban insurgents who vowed to disrupt the election is continuing.

Officials in Paktika province say a regional Taliban commander and five of his followers have been captured following a fierce six-hour gun battle at a hospital there.

The Taliban leader, named as Mullah Muslim, had gone to the medical facility to seek treatment. Provincial officials say the commander had been wounded during election-day violence.

U.S. and Afghan forces, tipped off that the Taliban had entered the hospital, responded with troops and a helicopter gunship.

Officials say 12 insurgents and one soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force died in the clash.