Violence Shatters Afghan Sense Of Security

Violence continues to plague Afghanistan. Some of it is aimed at the candidates in this month's elections and their supporters. A Taliban spokesman warned that as the elections approached, there would be more acts of violence. The result could be a lower voter turnout.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Last week, MORNING EDITION's own Renee Montagne introduced us to a number of presidential candidates in Afghanistan's election. She is still in Afghanistan and on the line. What are you looking at this week, Renee?

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Well, Steve, we're looking at violence, for starters, some of it aimed at the candidates and their supporters. Yesterday, for instance, the governor of a troubled province next door to Kabul survived a bomb that exploded under a bridge as his vehicle passed overhead.

And then here in Kabul, people were woken up just before dawn yesterday by the sound of rockets exploding right in the city. That was a first in years. And they hit near the American and other Western embassies. A Taliban spokesman warned that as the election approached, there'd be more of this sort of thing to come.

INSKEEP: Well, what does that mean for the election?

MONTAGNE: Everyone expects this to be an imperfect election. Everyone knows that it's going to be partly disrupted because there's a war on in parts of this country. And by the most conservative estimates, the number of polling centers that will be shut down because of the violence will be at least 10 percent, and that's hundreds of polling centers. And that means closing hundreds more of their satellite polling sites, and these are locations created just to make it possible for rural people to vote. So a lot of people may not get to vote.

INSKEEP: Haven't Afghans known for quite some time, though, that this was likely to be the situation?

MONTAGNE: You know, they have, Steve, actually. And, you know, in fact, a stable province in the north might have its polling centers - all of them opened, but those in the south have known, in fact, that places in the thick of the fighting like Kandahar might see more than 20 percent of their polling centers closed.

But let me play you some tape from a conversation I had, you know, with a group of elders from the provinces of Paktia and Khost, which are in the east. They border on Pakistan. They'll beset by Taliban fighters. Among them was a tribal elder who's also a member of Parliament, a Karzai supporter. He's already thinking about how to get his people to the polls wherever they are.

If this isn't solved, and if some people can't vote, will people respect the results of the election?

Mr. PATCHA HAN ZADRAN(ph): (Through Translator) Well, we shouldn't say the issue of legitimacy at this point because we do understand that we have security problem in the country and we do understand that we will not have voting in all polling stations. If legitimacy of elections is questionable, then we shouldn't launch the elections. We are having elections in Basra. We should give it a legitimacy anyways, because legitimacy is something that we need to calm down the people with.

MONTAGNE: And that was Patcha Han Zadran. He was among elders from Afghanistan's more troubled provinces that I spoke with.

Tomorrow, Steve, we'll be taking a look at how candidate endorsement from these traditional leaders, these elders, are part of the campaign here in Afghanistan. We'll hear how other kinds of wheeling and dealing are going on, beginning with a major endorsement of President Karzai a few days ago from a powerful religious leader in a very remote valley.

INSKEEP: That's MORNING EDITION's Renee Montagne reporting again this week from Afghanistan. Renee, we'll be listening tomorrow, and be safe.

MONTAGNE: Okay. Thanks, Steve.

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