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Sunday, September 18, 2005
  I blame Chimpy McHalliburton
Afghan Polls Close Without Much Violence: "Afghans chose a legislature for the first time in decades Sunday, embracing their newly recovered democratic rights and braving threats of Taliban attacks to cast votes in schools, tents and mosques.

Violence in the hours before voting began and during the day killed 15 people, including a French commando in the U.S.-led coalition that is helping Afghans build a democracy after a quarter-century of conflict. But there were no signs of a spectacular attack threatened by Taliban militants to disrupt the vote.

Sunday's vote was considered the last formal step toward democracy on a path set out after a U.S.-led force drove the Taliban from power in 2001, when they refused to hand over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Washington hopes the political advances will weaken the insurgency and let it begin withdrawing at least some of the 20,000 American soldiers providing security in Afghanistan, but some people worry that a too-rapid pullout could embolden rebels.

A stepped-up campaign by insurgents over the past six months killed 1,200 people, including seven candidates and four election workers.

It appeared tight security helped on election day, with only three people injured and no one killed near polling places, although officials said they thwarted plots to smuggle explosives into polling places in pens and a clock"
 
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