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Kabulis Ignore Security Warnings Ahead Of Election

People have been going about their daily business in Kabul despite security warnings from the authorities.
People have been going about their daily business in Kabul despite security warnings from the authorities.
In an effort to keep Afghan civilians off the streets and out of harm's way, government schools, universities, and some state buildings have been closed down nationwide.

Security officials have urged Kabul residents to avoid busy areas and stay indoors, while hundreds of soldiers and police have started patrols, conducting body searches and vehicle inspections along the way.

And the government has also deployed additional security forces at election rallies and assigned more bodyguards for presidential hopefuls Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.

It is all part of a pre-election "public holiday" that went into effect on June 10 and will last until the Afghan presidential election is over.

Afghan security forces fared surprisingly well during the first round, but they are expecting a much sterner test of their credentials this time around.

One reason is that the vote, which will take place on June 14, comes in the middle of the fighting season. Violence has picked up noticeably since the Taliban announced its annual spring offensive last month.

A deadly reminder of the dangers lurking around the presidential campaign came on June 6, when Abdullah Abdullah survived an assassination attempt that left 12 people dead.

But, despite the threat of violence, few seem to be heeding the authorities' warnings.

The two candidates have continued their rallies and public appearances across the country, while Kabul residents have defiantly gone about their daily lives.

It appeared to be business as usual on June 10, as residents of Kabul could be seen going to work, buying groceries, and playing cricket on the streets.

Some may be emboldened by the security successes of the first round vote on April 5, which saw no major attacks in Kabul amid a record high voter turnout.

Abdul Wali, a clock and watch seller, says he will not let the threat of militant attacks affect him.

Isaq, a shoe cleaner, says he will defy the insurgents and vote in the second round. He feels reassured, he says, because of the improving Afghan security forces.
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    Frud Bezhan

    Frud Bezhan is the editor for Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in the Central Newsroom at RFE/RL. Previously, he was a correspondent and reported from Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Turkey. Prior to joining RFE/RL in 2011, he worked as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan and contributed to several Australian newspapers, including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.