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Millions of Afghans defy Taliban threat to vote in presidential elections

Voters in Afghanistan went to the polls on Saturday to choose a new leader with incumbent president Ashraf Ghani widely expected to win a second five-year term.

But there are concerns his re-election could deepen political instability, embolden the Taliban and set back efforts to get stalled peace talks back on track.

As voting got underway explosions hit Kabul as well as the Afghan cities of Ghazni and Jalalabad and Kandahar.

Over 9 million Afghans registered to vote amid fears of violence and fraud. Tens of thousands of Afghan forces were deployed across 34 provinces to protect voters and polling stations from Taliban attacks.

The hardline insurgent group has threatened voters to stay away from the election or face dire consequences.