The Taliban have threatened to attack Afghan polling stations during Thursday’s presidential election, compounding fears that a low turnout could facilitate fraud and undermine the result.
The group distributed leaflets in villages in the south of the country, saying that voters were enemies of Islam and vowing to step up its campaign to disrupt the elections, which are also for provincial councillors.
“This is to inform residents that you must not participate in the elections so as not to become a victim of our operations, because we will use new tactics,” said one leaflet, distributed in Kandahar. It was written by Mullah Ghulam Haidar, the guerrillas’ purported operations commander in the city. “You must not rent out property to voting centers, and if anyone does — even after elections — they may face problems,” it went on.
The Taliban have already told voters to boycott the elections and threatened to slit the throats or cut off the fingers of anyone who ignored them, but they have not threatened to attack polling stations before.
The warning came just two days after President Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali, announced that he had negotiated truces with Taliban commanders in the south. He said that he had persuaded some commanders by telling them that if they disrupted the poll, a low turnout in the south might help Karzai’s main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, to win the election.