Fears of attacks shadow election
KABUL (AP) -- Threats of Taliban violence and rumors of fraud cast a shadow over Afghanistan's election, in which millions of voters will choose a new president Thursday to lead a nation plagued by armed insurgency, drugs, corruption and a feeble government.
International officials predict an imperfect outcome for a vote that they hope Afghans will accept as credible -- a key component of President Barack Obama's war strategy.
On the eve of the balloting, the U.S. military announced the deaths of six more Americans -- putting August on track to become the deadliest month for American forces since the war began in 2001. Rising death tolls underscore the urgency of establishing a strong, effective government to stem the growing Taliban insurgency.
President Hamid Karzai, who has held power since the Taliban was ousted eight years ago, is favored to finish first among 36 official candidates, although a late surge by former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah could force a runoff if no one wins more than 50 percent.
Preliminary results are expected to be announced Saturday Kabul time.