Afghanistan votes in historic presidential election


Around 14 million Afghans have registered to vote

Afghans have begun voting for a new president in what will be the nation’s first ever transfer of power through the ballot box.

A massive security operation is under way to thwart the Taliban which has vowed to disrupt the election.

Eight candidates are vying to succeed Hamid Karzai, who is barred by the constitution from seeking a third consecutive term as president.

The poll has already been overshadowed by the shooting of two journalists.

Award-winning German photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed and veteran Canadian reporter Kathy Gannon was injured when a police commander opened fire on their car in the eastern town of Khost on Friday. They had both worked for Associated Press for many years.

It was the latest in a string of deadly attacks that marred the lead-up to the election.

Large queues

Heavy rain was falling in Kabul early on Saturday and BBC correspondents said young voters in particular were defying the conditions and the security threats.

The biggest military operation since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 has been rolled out for the vote, says the BBC’s David Loyn in the Afghan capital. All 400,000 of Afghanistan’s police and soldiers were said to be on duty for the election.

In parts of the capital voters could be seen queuing an hour before polls opened.

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