Afghanistan's elections were welcomed as relatively peaceful after extremist attacks killed 26 people but fears mounted Friday that Taliban intimidation could have stymied turnout.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose alliance has 64,500 troops in Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban-led insurgency, hailed the election a "success" in security terms and said it had been well run.
Eight years after the 2001 US-led invasion with the Taliban insurgency killing record numbers of Western troops and Afghan civilians, the officially reported deaths of 26 was a fairly average daily death toll, reports AFP.
According to Reuters, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Friday he was sure the outcome of Afghanistan's presidential election would be disputed and urged the main candidates to wait for official results before declaring victory.
"We always knew it would be a disputed election. I would not be surprised if you see candidates claiming victory and fraud in the next few days," Holbrooke said at a briefing in Kabul with election observers.
Hamid Karzai’s campaign team has claimed outright victory in the Afghan presidential election, while his chief rival’s campaign said early indications put their candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, ahead.
Haji Din Mohammad, Mr Karzai’s campaign manager, said reports from his 29,000 polling station observers suggested the incumbent had won.
He said: “Initial results show that the president has got a majority. We will not go to a second round.”
Official results will follow in several weeks. Afghanistan's election authority said it could not confirm the Karzai team's claims and called on candidates to await the final results, Telegraph.co.uk informs.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year