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Afghan deputy minister kidnapped

An senior Afghan government official was kidnapped along with his driver on his way to work in Kabul on Tuesday, an interior ministry official said. Ahmad Shah Waheed, deputy minister for public works, was taken by gunmen at around 7:00 am (0230 GMT) from the Khairkhana neighbourhood of the capital, said the official who declined to be named. He did not elaborate, saying more information could harm efforts to recover the men.

Smooth Afghan election raises questions about Taliban's strength

By John Chalmers and Maria Golovnina KABUL (Reuters) - A bigger-than-expected turnout in Afghanistan's presidential election and the Taliban's failure to significantly disrupt the vote have raised questions about the capacity of the insurgents to tip the country back into chaos as foreign troops head home.

13 Killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

Kabul, Apr 7 (EFE).- At least 13 civilians died and another five were wounded Monday when a roadside bomb went off as their vehicle passed on a route in the southern province of Kandahar, an Afghan police spokesman told Efe. The explosion went off around 6:00 p.m. in the Maywand district, provincial police spokesman Rahman Durrani said, adding that all the fatalities were men. The wounded, including a woman and child, were taken by security forces to the provincial hospital in "critical" condition, the spokesman said.

Roadside bomb kills 13 Afghan civilians

A roadside bomb killed 13 civilians travelling in a pick-up truck in a volatile district of southern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, in the first major incident since elections two days ago. Taliban militants had vowed to target voters, candidates and officials at the presidential elections, but there were no large-scale attacks on polling day on Saturday. "A civilian vehicle hit a roadside bomb on the outskirts of Maiwand district," Kandahar provincial police spokesman Ghorzang Afridi told AFP. "As a result of the blast, 13 civilians were killed, all men.

UN chief congratulates Afghans on 'momentous' vote

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Afghans on Sunday for the "momentous achievement" of their recent elections, calling for fairness and transparency as the lengthy counting process gets underway. Afghans braved the threat of Taliban attacks to vote in Saturday's polls to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, the first democratic transition of power in the country. "The millions of women and men who cast their ballots are a testament to the courage and the commitment of Afghans to exercise their rights and shape their future," said Ban.

Pakistan to release 13 Taliban prisoners

Pakistan will release another 13 Taliban prisoners as a "goodwill gesture" to help ongoing peace talks with militants, the interior minister said Saturday. The announcement came after the Pakistani Taliban on Friday extended a ceasefire by six days, stating they were doing so to allow the government more time to meet their demands of releasing "non-combatant" prisoners and pulling back soldiers.

Factbox: Main candidates in Afghanistan's presidential election

KABUL (Reuters) - Voting was under way in Afghanistan's presidential election on Saturday, with about 12 million people eligible to choose between eight candidates. Here are brief descriptions of the three leading contenders. ASHRAF GHANI AHMADZAI

Afghans vote in presidential election as US troops exit

Afghan voters went to the polls Saturday to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, braving Taliban threats in a landmark election held as US-led forces wind down their long intervention in the country. Security was tight as polls opened at 7:00 am (0230 GMT) after the Islamists rejected the election as a foreign plot and urged their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces.

German AP photographer shot dead in Afghanistan

An Afghan police commander on Friday shot dead a female German photographer working for the Associated Press on the eve of presidential elections, in an attack that left a Canadian colleague wounded, the news agency said. The journalists were shot in their car in the Tanai district of Khost province, in the country's east, as they reported on distribution of ballot papers for the election to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

Afghans vote in presidential election as US troops exit

Millions of Afghans are expected to brave Taliban threats Saturday to vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai in a landmark election held as US-led forces wind down their long intervention in the country. The Islamists have rejected the election as a foreign plot, and urged their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces. Afghanistan's third presidential election brings an end to 13 years of rule by Karzai, who has led the country since the Taliban were ousted in a US-led invasion in 2001.
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