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Taliban says it won't attack voting stations during Afghan elections

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ISLAMABAD, August 23 (RIA Novosti, Yevgeni Pakhomov) - Taliban militants do not intend to stage attacks on voting stations during the upcoming parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Latifullah Hakimi said.

"We decided not to attack stations where civilians will be voting," he said.

U.S. and pro-U.S. Afghan authorities deliberately placed the voting stations in densely-populated areas to maximize casualties in the event of an attack, said Hakimi, who was speaking via satellite to several Pakistani newspapers and information agencies.

"Militant action against the pro-American government and the U.S. military in Afghanistan will, however, be increased," he said.

The elections, scheduled for Sept. 18, will see heightened international security. NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) intends to intensify security in advance of the elections. Neighboring Pakistan also intends to post an additional 4000 soldiers on the Afghan border to stop militants traveling out of Pakistan during the elections.

The Taliban held power in Afghanistan from the mid-1990s, controlling about 95% of the country's territory. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. launched air strikes in Afghanistan after the Taliban said it would not give up al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, believed to have masterminded the attacks and be hiding in the country.

Taliban fighters based on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border continue to launch periodic attacks against the new government and the Western military based in the country.

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