KABUL ( SW) - Polls opened Saturday in Afghanistan's presidential election amid threats by the Taliban to disrupt the voting.
Among the front-running candidates are the incumbent President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his power-sharing Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and 13 other candidates.
Nearly 9.7 million voters have registered to cast ballots on Saturday in the fourth presidential polls in the war-ravaged country following the fall of theTaliban regime in the 2001.
The voting process at the 901 centers did not start on time. The Independent Election Commission officials said voting continued at 4041 polling stations across the country.
Abdul Aziz Ebrahimi, spokesman for the IEC, told a news conference in Kabul today that the IEC had planned voting at 4942 polling stations, of which there are 4041 polling stations active.
According to him, the interruption with telecommunications networks in some provinces made them unaware of the opening and closing of 901 polling stations.
But, according to figures released by security agencies previously out of 5,373 polling stations, 431 were closed because of disruption in telecommunications networks.
The IEC officials said the voting process, which began at 7 a.m. and was scheduled to continue until 3 p.m. was postponed for another two hours.
The voting process has been extended to 5 p.m. today, said Hava Elam Nuristani, head of the Independent Election Commission, at a news conference in Kabul.
Meanwhile, the German embassy in Kabul has condemned Taliban attacks on polling stations. The German Embassy in Kabul wrote on its official Twitter page, "We strongly condemn Taliban attacks on polling stations, voters and polling station staff."
The German embassy in Kabul added in a tweet that "any kind of behavior is not acceptable to prevent the democratic process and to harm civilians."
The Jawzjan police commander Abdul Wahed Wajdan said no polling stations have been opened in the Darzab and Qurghin districts of the province due to clashes between security forces and the Taliban. The clashes began last night and are still ongoing, he said.
The Jawzjan police commander added that there are also ongoing fighting in Fayzabad, Mardian and Aqche districts.
However, a female journalist in Jowzjan said the presence of women at polling stations in Shabarghan was more prominent than men.
Among the presidential candidates, Rahmatullah Nabil, Hakim Torsan and Latif Pedram also voted.
Earlier, the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah voted.
"There is no room for violence, intimidation and fraud" in the Afghan elections, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a news release. The UN Secretary-General added that any attack on the election process, including attacks on polling stations, election staff and voters, was unacceptable.