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Taliban Vows To Target Presidential Election

An Afghan woman shows her voter registration card.
Afghan officials have dismissed a Taliban threat to disrupt the April 5 presidential election as a "mere propaganda effort."

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Najib Danesh, said on March 10 that the Taliban wants to "disseminate panic" among people.

Danesh said the ministry has worked out a concrete plan to ensure security during the election.

Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said "all election workers are ordinary civilians" and that "civilians should not be targeted."

The Taliban said in a statement e-mailed to news agencies on March 10 that "we have given orders to all our mujahedin to use all force at their disposal to disrupt these upcoming sham elections."

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban is telling clerics across the country to spread the word that the election is "an American conspiracy."

The statement said Taliban fighters would "target all workers, activists, callers, security apparatus, and offices" and that Afghans should reject the vote and not put themselves in harm's way by voting.

Previous Afghan elections have been marred by violence, with at least 31 civilians and 26 soldiers and police killed on polling day in 2009.

The April 5 election is to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has led the country since the UN-backed Bonn deal in late 2001.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP