An Afghan resident holds up her inked finger and voter registration card after casting her ballot at a polling station in Jalalabad on June 14, 2014. AFP PHOTO/Noorullah Shirzada
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Afghans defied Taliban threats by voting Saturday in a second-round presidential election, as US-led combat troops wind down a 13-year war that has failed to defeat the insurgents.No major attacks were reported in the first hours of voting, though the Taliban claimed responsibility for two rockets exploding near Kabul airport causing no casualties. The run-off election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani leads the country into a new era of declining international military and civilian assistance. President Hamid Karzai is due to step down after ruling the country since 2001, when a US-led offensive ousted the austere Taliban regime for sheltering Al-Qaeda militants behind the 9/11 attacks. In the first-round vote in April, the insurgents failed to launch a single high-profile attack and voter turnout was more than 50 percent.Abdullah secured 45 percent of the first-round vote with Ghani on 31.6 percent, after investigations into fraud claims from both sides.
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