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Sep 18, 2010 at 03:18pm IST

7 security men killed on Afghan polling day

Kabul: Seven security men were killed in a Taliban attack on polling station during in Afghanistan during parliamentary elections.

Afghanistan's parliamentary elections began nationwide on Saturday amid tight security and fears of widespread fraud. Afghans braved sporadic rocket and bomb attacks to vote for a new parliament. It is the second parliamentary elections since the Afgan war but peace still eludes. Fraud and voilence remain the biggest concern in this election.

A total of 12.5 million Afghans are eligible to vote for more than 2,500 candidates vying for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament, the Wolesi Jirga. Around 400 women are among those fighting the second elections since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

According to the country's electoral law, the candidates run without party affiliation, in a system that is apparently designed to prevent ethnic factionalism. But the post-Taliban constitution allocates a quarter of seats in the lower house to women.

More than 110,000 Afghan police and army personnel are deployed in and around nearly 6,000 polling stations. Due to a lack of adequate security, around 15 percent, or more than 1,000 polling sites, remained closed, most of them in the country's south and east.

The Taliban have threatened voters and vowed to derail the polling with bombings.

The election is seen as a big test for President Hamid Karzai to legitimise his rule in the eyes of the Afghan people following the presidential elections last year, which were marred by insurgent attacks and massive fraud.

Voting began at 7:00 AM in the morning will continue till 4 PM. The initial results were expected by early next month, while the final verified results were due to be announced around the end of October.

Many candidates and observers said there was the possibility of fraud and double voting as fake voting cards have been sold across the country. Millions of fake cards are said to have been printed in Pakistan.

(With inputs from IANS)