Image Copyright: Heath Druzin/Stars and Stripes
By Josh Smith and Heath Druzin
Copyright: Stars and Stripes
KABUL — The long lines outside many polling stations in Afghanistan for Saturday’s crucial presidential election not only raised hopes for the country’s future, but for many represented an embarrassing setback to the Taliban, which had vowed to disrupt the vote.
The day was not bloodless. At least 20 people were killed in violence across the country Saturday, among them seven military personnel, nine police and four civilians, Afghan Interior Minister Mohammad Umer Daudzai told reporters. And in many rural areas, turnout was reported to be nearly nonexistent as residents cited fears of the Taliban.
But the fact that the Taliban were apparently unable, or unwilling in the face of heavy security presence, to project violence or intimidation beyond their traditional strongholds was seen by many Afghans as a blow to the insurgent group, at least in the war of perceptions.