Afghan voter suffers gruesome attack by Taliban

Afghan voter suffers gruesome attack by Taliban

A man said Taliban militants cut off his nose and both ears as he headed for a polling station in central Afghanistan.

"I was on my way to a polling station when Taliban stopped me and searched me. They found my voter registration card," Lal Mohammad told reporters from a hospital bed in Kabul yesterday.

He said that after cutting him, they beat him unconscious with a weapon.

"I regret that I went to vote," Mr Mohammad said, crying and trying to hide his disfigured face. "What is the benefit of voting to me?"

The US-led coalition forces had hoped that the August 20 presidential election would establish an Afghan government with the legitimacy to combat the Taliban, corruption and the flourishing drug trade.

The vote, however, was clouded by allegations of widespread fraud as well as threats and intimidation by the Taliban.

New vote tallies released yesterday showed President Hamid Karzai leading with 45.8% of the votes counted, with top challenger Abdullah Abdullah trailing with 33.2%.

Ballots have been counted from almost half of the country's voting stations. Mr Karzai needs 50% of the votes to avoid a run-off.

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