The streets of Kabul were eerily quiet on Thursday, as polls for Afghanistan's second presidential election since the fall of the Taliban opened to little fanfare and even smaller crowds. Children, taking advantage of the trafficless streets, flew kites. Watermelon sellers languished in the shade of their carts waiting for a sale.
The only customers were police, who were stationed at every intersection to inspect the few vehicles that passed their way. Kabul residents had been spooked by Wednesday's curious lack of violence and were apprehensive that the Taliban had planned something big for voting day. They were right to worry. Not long after polls opened, reports of explosions across the capital drove even the most courageous voters indoors.
Two improvised bombs went off at polling stations, with another five at important intersections, and in two other districts, gunfire among rival factions prevented voting for the rest of the day.
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