Taliban Strike with Poll-Eve Kidnap Spree

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KABUL, Sept 17 - Two candidates and eighteen election officials and campaign workers have reportedly been kidnapped in three separate incidents the day before tomorrow’s poll.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabullah Mojahed, told the BBC they had kidnapped Wolesi Jirga candidate Mawli Hayatullah in Laghman province on Friday. Local media reports also say that Saifullah Mojadedi – a candidate in Herat province – has also been abducted by insurgents.

Pajhwok Afghan News reports the kidnappers were demanding one million afghani (about $22,000) ransom to release Mr Mojadedi.

Earlier, an official from the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the Taliban had kidnapped eight Afghan election officials and 10 campaign workers in Badghis province. The group, believed to be all men, were taken on Thursday night from Muqur district.

"They were kidnapped last night by the Taliban," the head of the IEC in Bagdhis, Abdul Rahman, told AFP. Mohammad Shah Hanzala, the district governor, confirmed the incident and said those kidnapped had been taken to a Taliban-dominated region of the province.

The incident comes as the Taliban re-issued threats to anyone associated with the election, warning that voters who dare to try to cast ballots "will get hurt".  The Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan issued a statement Thursday announcing that it had documented 61 reports of election-related violence during the campaign period, which ended Wednesday night, 49 of which targeted candidates and campaign staff.

Tens of thousands of Afghan security forces were on high alert Friday as election officials in Kabul said preparations were complete and security officials called for voters to turn out to the polls on Saturday.

See more reactions to election-related violence here and here


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