Rebels fighting ahead of crucial polls leave six dead, three reporters kidnapped

Fighting across Afghanistan ahead of crucial legislative elections results in six people dead, three local journalists kidnapped and a women candidate injured, officials said Thursday.

Despite the bloodshed, the government said it was confident of success in Sunday's polls.

"The enemy is making efforts to threaten people but they don't have the ability to stop the elections," Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said. "They may only be able to create a disturbance."

He said 55,000 police officers, 28,000 soldiers and about 20,000 militia troops and intelligence agents have fanned out across the country to safeguard voting. Some 20,000 troops from a U.S.-led coalition and a separate 11,000-strong NATO-led force are also on alert.

Jalali said more than 100 militant plots to attack the polls have been thwarted, including suicide attacks and roadside bombs.

Taliban insurgents have stepped up attacks and vowed to subvert the elections, seen as a major step toward democracy and stability after a quarter-century of war. Fighting has left more than 1,200 people dead in the past six months, including five candidates and four election workers.

In the latest violence, about 40 gunmen attacked a police post in the mountainous Char-Chilo district of Uruzgan province late Wednesday, provincial Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan said. Police killed three of the attackers and arrested one after a two-hour gunbattle, he said. The others escaped.

There were no casualties among 20 police manning the checkpoint, Khan said.

Khan also blamed the Taliban for the killings of seven men whose bodies were found in the province Tuesday along with their voter ID cards.

Also Wednesday, a bomb exploded along a road frequently traveled by U.S.-led and Afghan army forces near Tirin Kot, the provincial capital, blowing up a civilian vehicle and killing three passengers, he said, reports the AP.

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