The Taliban are threatening to attack polling centers in the key southern province of Kandahar, a warning likely to have a chilling effect on potential voters in this week’s presidential election.
Afghanistan’s intelligence service chief, meanwhile, said authorities were making progress in convincing some Taliban to leave voters alone Thursday, when Afghans will select a president and members of provincial councils.
Militants have promised to disrupt the poll, in which President Hamid Karzai hopes to win another five—year term. Some have warned people to stay away from voting centres, close businesses and not travel on election day.
In leaflets pinned on mosque walls in the city late Saturday, the militants warned they will use “new tactics” as they try to undermine the vote.
“You should not participate in the elections and should not go to the polling centres because officials might be there and there might be attacks against them,” said the letter signed by Ghulam Haidar, the Taliban’s operational Kandahar commander.
“You should not participate in the elections because you might be the victims of our operations,” said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.
The Taliban also warned people not to allow the voting to take place on their property or rent their houses to election officials.
The head of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, Amrullah Saleh, indicated talks were under way with local Taliban leaders to avoid attacking voting centres, but he gave few details.
“When we started this, we found out that there is no cohesion of command” within the Taliban, he said.
Separately, a rocket hit a shop in Kandahar city, wounding two children inside, police official Mohammad Jan said. No group immediately claimed responsibility.
The attack came a day after a suicide car bomb killed seven people and wounded 91 outside NATO’s military headquarters in Kabul. The Taliban said it was responsible.