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U.S. Commander Predicts Big Afghan Turnout

Women reading campaign posters 17 September 2005 -- The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan today said he expected a big turnout in tomorrow's landmark elections.

The comments came as clashes between police and guerrillas resulted in at least 12 dead.

Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry said today that he believes Afghans would turn out at the polls in droves despite the high risk of violence.

"Tomorrow that election is going to go," Eikenberry said. "There will be some violence, but it's going to go. Twelve million registered voters -- they're going to turn out in record numbers to express their will."

Police Chief Slain

Meanwhile, suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed and killed the police chief of Kabul's Musayi district and two other policemen.

Separately, two suspected Taliban gunmen were killed in a firefight with highway police in the southeastern Afghanistan's Zabul Province.

In the southern Kandahar Province, suspected Taliban ambushed a police patrol.

Seven Taliban rebels were killed in the ensuing battle. No police officers were killed or wounded.

In neighboring Pakistan, thousands of troops have been put on alert near the Afghan border.


For more on the Afghan elections, see RFE/RL Afghanistan Votes page.