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Afghanistan says U.S. air strike kills three civilians

KABUL (Reuters) - A U.S. air strike in eastern Afghanistan has killed three civilians, the Afghan president's office said on Tuesday. The bombing took place in Khost on Monday night, a statement said. The U.S.-led military coalition ISAF said it was looking into the incident.

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.

Text message ban could undermine Afghan vote

The head of the European Union's Afghan election observer mission condemned the suspension of mobile text messaging services across the country Saturday, saying it threatened the transparency of the poll. Cellphone users were able to make calls but not send SMS messages in an apparent effort to prevent candidates transmitting campaign messages on polling day. EU chief observer Thijs Berman wrote to election officials to warn the move would "seriously handicap" the work of candidates' agents, who monitor polling stations, and could even affect their safety.

Polls open in Afghan elections

Polling stations opened for Afghanistan's presidential election on Saturday with voters heading to cast their ballot for a successor to President Hamid Karzai as US-led troops exit the country. Polling stations opened at 07:00 am (0230 GMT) with AFP journalists witnessing the start of voting in the capital Kabul. bur/bgs/pdw/lm

Price of a voter card in Afghanistan? Taliban offer $5

By Hamid Shalizi JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The Taliban have launched a violent campaign to disrupt this weekend's presidential election in Afghanistan, but in a restive eastern corner of the country they are paying villagers to surrender their voting cards. Residents in Nangarhar province, which lies on the border with Pakistan, said local Taliban militants have been offering voters 500 Pakistani rupees - the equivalent of just over $5 - to opt out of the election.

Kandahar, cradle of Afghan insurgency, torn by tribal rivalry ahead of vote

By Hamid Shalizi and Jessica Donati KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Growing violence in the southern province of Kandahar ahead of Afghanistan's presidential election next week highlights a rift between Pashtun tribes that could tip the country back into civil war.

Digging trenches to digging mines; the new face of Canada's Afghan experience

KABUL - Canadians could go from digging trenches to helping dig gold and copper mines in Afghanistan if the Harper government has its way. The country's ambassador to Kabul signalled this week the moribund Afghan economy will be a principal focus beyond this week's conclusion of the military mission. Deborah Lyons, who took over as Canada's first woman ambassador to Afghanistan six months ago, says helping the Afghan economy develop is a way to fill Kabul's treasury.

Afghan president welcomes third child at age of 56

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has become a father again at the age of 56 after his wife gave birth to their third child in India, according to an embassy statement sent to AFP Friday. A baby girl was delivered at a private hospital in the New Delhi satellite town of Gurgaon earlier this week, the statement said. Karzai paid a brief visit to the Fortis Hospital on Wednesday to see his wife, 44, and new child as he flew on to Sri Lanka where he is on a two-day trip.

Five Afghan soldiers killed in air strike by NATO-led force

KABUL (Reuters) - Five Afghan soldiers were killed on Thursday in an air strike by the NATO-led force in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar, Afghan officials and the coalition said. Coalition airstrikes on friendly targets have helped widen a rift between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the United States, cementing his resolve not to sign a bilateral security deal to let U.S. troops remain in the country after 2014.

Karzai's brother declares his withdrawal from Afghan election

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's brother withdrew from the country's election race Thursday, and endorsed former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul to lead the country as NATO troops leave after 13 years of fighting the Taliban. "I and my team, we consider ourselves as a key part of this new alliance and declare my support for Doctor Zalmai Rassoul," Qayum Karzai told a press conference in Kabul. sak/bgs/pdw
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