Kandahar goes to the polls in Afghan parliamentary vote delayed by violence

Suicide bomber targets electoral officials in Kabul

Afghans risk their lives to vote in delayed Kandahar poll

"People are determined to take part in the election because they want to show the Taliban that terror can not stop the Afghans from deciding their future", Dawa Khan Menapal, an independent candidate, said before the voting in Kandahar.

Elections in Kandahar was delayed after the provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Raziq was assassinated in a shootout just two days ahead of the election day.

After waiting a week to cast their votes, Kandahar residents have finally been able to post their ballots in this parliamentary election.

The attack took place after a meeting with the top United States commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller.

"I have defied all the threats of attacks and explosions to vote".

These legislative elections are the first in Afghanistan to make use of biometric devices at voting centers.

No group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the blast yet.

On the eve of the ballot, Afghan air strikes killed at least 56 Taliban militants in Kandahar's Shah Wali Kot district, provincial police spokesman Zia Durrani told AFP.

The attack on the IEC offices comes only a week after millions of Afghans across the nation flocked to polling stations to cast their votes in the parliamentary elections.

The province's powerful provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq, was killed, as well as at least another provincial official and several policemen.

IEC figures show roughly 4.2 million out of the almost nine million people registered to vote actually cast a ballot.

That was significantly higher than the government's casualty figures, supporting speculation that officials had deliberately downplayed the violence so voters would not be scared off.

The election is seen as a dry run for next year's presidential vote and an important milestone in advance of a United Nations meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes".

According to the IEC, 111 candidates from Kandahar were competing for 11 seats, including three for women, at the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament.

Preliminary nationwide results are expected to be released in November.

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