The Taliban warned Afghans on Monday against taking part in the upcoming presidential election and ordered their fighters to “use all force” possible to disrupt the vote.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed to media that the Taliban is also telling clerics across the country to spread the word that the election is “an American conspiracy.”

Mr. Mujahid’s statement was the Taliban’s first formal threat of violence over the April 5 vote, when Afghanistan elects its next President.

The Taliban statement told Afghans they should “reject completely” the election and not put themselves in danger by going to the polls.

“We have given orders to all our mujahedeen (holy warriors) to use all force at its disposal to disrupt these upcoming sham elections to target all its workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices,” the statement said.

It also warned the government against using public buildings, such as mosques and schools, for polling.