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Don't vote, Afghan public warned

Security remained high in Afghanistan Sunday, with reports that voters' lives were being threatened if they take part in elections on Thursday for both president and provincial councils.

Security remained high in Afghanistan Sunday, with reports that voters' lives were being threatened if they take part in elections on Thursday for both president and provincial councils.

The news of voter intimidation came as NATO and Afghan troops worked to protect voting sites around the country, the day after a car bombing in Kabul killed seven people and wounded close to 100.

Saturday's attack happened near the main gate of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul.

The CBC's James Murray reported Sunday that the bombing appears to be part of a broader campaign of voter intimidation.

"Just a few hours after the suicide bombing struck the front gate of the NATO's compound in Kabul, phone calls and texts were going out across Afghanistan saying: 'Help with the election, help the foreigners, and you'll be next,'" Murray reported.

Murray said voters were also told, "If you show up to vote on election day, you risk being hurt by an attack."

Afghans were also warned: "If you help the election take place, let your house be used as a polling station, rent your truck out to carry ballot boxes, you risk violent retaliation in the weeks to come," he reported.

International observers, including those from Canada, say there are fears that violence like Saturday's attack could keep voters from casting their ballots.

"This incident proves that the enemy is capable of putting a large explosive right in the middle of Kabul — past any number of checkpoints on one of the most highly visible, highly guarded locations in the city," Nipa Banerjee, a University of Ottawa professor who observing the vote, told CBC News.

'Afghans are not afraid of any threats,' Karzai claims

Banerjee also note that the attack happened "during peak hours on the doorsteps of a military headquarters."

"You can never remove all the risk," Canadian Brig.-Gen. Eric Tremblay, an ISAF spokesman told CBC News from Kabul.

 "We're learning with every event and applying lessons learned and modifying our plans as we move along to ensure that the security is high for election day," Tremblay said.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the vote will go ahead. Afghans "are not afraid of any threats, and they will go to cast their votes," Karzai said in a statement after the attack.

"The enemies of Afghanistan, by conducting such attacks, are trying to create fear among the people as we get close to the election," he said.

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