Afghans begin presidential vote amid insurgent attacks

Sept. 28 (UPI) — Afghans began voting Saturday to elect a new president amid insurgents bomb attacks.

The bomb and mortar attacks on voting centers killed at least one person and injured 27 others, the BBC reported.

Authorities deployed more than 70,000 security forces nationwide to counter Taliban threats to the polls.

The twice-delayed vote — the fourth election since U.S.-led troops ousted the Taliban in 2001 — was underway despite the collapse of U.S.-Taliban peace talks earlier this month.

Incumbent Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, who have shared power since 2014 in a unity government, are the two main candidates.

Fraud allegations mired the elections five years ago, resulting in the “national unity government.”

Elections officials implemented a biometric voting system based on fingerprints across the country in an attempt to avoid fraud. Still, reports emerged suggesting various polling site irregularities, including malfunctioning of the biometrics system and irregular lists of voters.

Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chairwoman of the Independent Election Commission, said 75 percent, or 4,041, polling stations were open Saturday across the country for people to cast their votes. Nuristani added that 481 polling stations remained closed.

The Independent Election Commission passed a resolution extending the voting time from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. The IEC expects to announce the winner of the election in three weeks.

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