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News About Vote Counting Released In Afghanistan

Peter Erben (left) at the vote-counting center Kabul, 25 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Voting officials gave an update on the status of vote counting in Afghanistan's parliamentary and provincial council elections held one week ago today.

Peter Erben, the head of the Joint Electoral Management Body, said at a press conference in Kabul that 50 percent of the ballots have been counted in the Farah, Nimroz, and Uruzgan provinces.

Erben also said ballots from 19 percent of all polling stations are now counted. He dismissed any concerns about widespread instances of voter fraud.

"We have some ballot boxes quarantined in, I believe, every province," he said. "This is absolutely normal. The fact that we set ballot boxes aside to be investigated is a healthy sign. It means that we're critical. We're looking at if there are any problems, and we look into these problems and decide whether there should be any consequences for the count of those boxes."

Also in Kabul, U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley said it will be the responsibility of the candidates to "accept the results peacefully" once the count is complete. Final certified results are due 22 October.

Also today, a U.S. Chinook military helicopter crashed in southern Zabul Province, killing all five American crew members onboard. It is the third U.S. Chinook to crash in Afghanistan this year.

Afghan police said three suspected Taliban insurgents were killed in Helmand Province when a bomb they were planting went off prematurely.

And Pakistan officials report arresting a Taliban official during a raid in the border town of Basya Khel.

(international agencies, RFE/RL,

Read all about the Afghan parliamentary elections at "Afghanistan Votes"

For more information about Afghanistan, see RFE/RL's webpage "News and Features on Afghanistan"