Nightly News   |  September 18, 2010

Afghans defy violence and head to polls

Voters in Afghanistan were electing a new parliament, in only the second election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. NBC’s John Yang reports from Kabul

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LESTER HOLT, anchor: In Afghanistan today voters defied violence to go to the polls to elect a new Parliament . It's only the second such election since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 , and the first time Afghans have run the process themselves. NBC 's John Yang joins us tonight with more from Kabul . John , good evening.

JOHN YANG reporting: Good evening, Lester . Officials say at least 14 people were killed in Taliban rocket and bomb attacks on this election day . But the Taliban failed to stop the voting as they had promised to do. In fact, despite a recent uptick in violence here, today was calmer than last year's presidential election . But turnout appears to have been spotty at best, none of the long lines that marked last year's balloting. This was a key test of Afghan progress today, not only security progress but political progress. President Obama wants to start withdrawing troops next summer. Late today in a statement, top US commander General David Petraeus stressed that today the Afghans were in charge, in charge of security and in charge of the voting process. Last year's election was, of course, marked by massive fraud, and observers are already saying there was evidence of fraud again today. So the biggest test will be how the Afghan government handles those complaints. And with 2500 candidates running for 249 offices, there's bound to be a lot more complaints

to come. Lester: John Yang in Kabul . John ,

HOLT: