4 Afghan civilians killed in insurgent attacks as tainted election results threaten legitimacy

By Robert Kennedy, AP
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Afghan militant attacks kill 4 civilians, wound 6

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two civilians riding a motorcycle died when a roadside bomb exploded as they passed in southwestern Afghanistan, and two others were killed by rockets in the war-weary country’s east, officials said Tuesday.

The explosive planted by insurgents went off in southwestern Farah province’s Rusht Rod district, killing the two people on the motorbike Monday evening, said Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askir, provincial police chief.

Rockets fired by militants in Andar district Monday afternoon killed two Afghan civilians and wounded six others, said Ismail Jahangir, spokesman for the governor of Ghazni province.

The nine-year war has inflicted a mounting toll on Afghan civilians. The United Nations says insurgents are responsible for most civilian deaths and injuries, however, noncombatants are also killed in NATO military operations, which is a major source of contention between the alliance and Afghanistan’s government.

A recent U.N. report said more than 1,200 Afghans died and nearly 2,000 were wounded between January and June this year. It said anti-government forces were responsible for 76 percent of those casualties. The Taliban called the report “propaganda.”

In eastern Paktia province, two children were seriously wounded Monday after an land mine left over from the 1980s war with the Soviet Union detonated as they played with it, NATO said in a Tuesday statement.

Separately, results from last month’s parliamentary elections continued to trickle in Tuesday, though widespread insecurity has threatened the legitimacy of vote. Candidates and observers have alleged ballot-box stuffing and voter intimidation during the Sept. 18 vote. The U.N. says that violence related to the balloting killed at least 32 civilians.

The Afghan election commission said it nullified some or all of the ballots from 227 voting sites — about 4 percent of those that opened on election day — and detained Khost province’s election chief over fraud allegations.

The vote was the first since a presidential election last year that was nearly derailed by widespread ballot-box stuffing and tally manipulation. That poll led many Western powers to question whether they should be supporting the administration of President Hamid Karzai with military forces and funds.

This year’s elections had about 2,500 candidates vying for 249 parliamentary seats. An anti-fraud elections watchdog has received more than 3,500 complaints of cheating or misconduct — about 57 percent serious enough that they could affect the outcome of the vote. The anti-fraud body is investigating 45 candidates for voter fraud.

The election commission has released at least partial tallies for 25 of 34 provinces. Full preliminary results now aren’t expected until Oct. 17, about a week delay from the previously announced date, the commission said Tuesday. Final results will be released at the earliest at the end of October — following the completion of fraud investigations.

Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report.

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