March 29 - Violence sweeps through Afghanistan ahead of presidential elections as the spokesman for International Security Assistance Force is cautiously optimistic about poll. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Violence sweeps through Afghanistan ahead of the April 5th presidential election as Taliban insurgents attack the independent election commission Saturday. Brigadier General Heinz Feldmann is the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL HEINZ FELDMANN, SPOKESMAN FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE, SAYING: "These elections are a crucial part of the Afghan political transition and we have seen the attempt of the Taliban and other militant groups to discredit the elections by spreading the feeling of insecurity in the last couple of weeks, but we have also seen the attempt of the Afghan National Security Forces to establish a safe environment for the upcoming elections." Despite the violence, he is cautiously optimistic. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIGADIER GENERAL HEINZ FELDMANN, SPOKESMAN FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE FORCE, SAYING: "We have seen some 500 election events during the last couple of months and the Afghan National Security forces were well prepared to provide security. And what amazes us is to see the thousands of people attending these events despite the security threat from the militancy against these people. So, it gives us some kind of confidence that the people of Afghanistan will make the difference next week despite the threats of the militancy." Afghans are voting for a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from running for another term in office.