Civilians voted in presidential elections amid tight security even as insurgents attacked polling centres in a series of blasts and clashes across the country that has left at least five people dead.

An Afghan security force officer inspects voters during the presidential election in Jalalabad, Afghanistan September 28, 2019.
An Afghan security force officer inspects voters during the presidential election in Jalalabad, Afghanistan September 28, 2019. (Reuters)

Polls have closed in Afghanistan's presidential election amid widespread complaints of irregularities and pockets of violence from Taliban insurgents, mostly in the south and north of the country.

Voters complained that voters' lists were incomplete or missing and that biometric identification machines intended to reduce fraud were not working properly (or that people were not adequately trained on how to use them).

A deeply flawed election could drive the country into chaos.

Preliminary results are not expected before October 17 and final results not until November 7. 

If no candidate gets 51 percent of the vote, a second round will be held between the two leading candidates.

TRT World's Hasan Abdullah reports from Kabul.

Series of blasts

Earlier today, a series of blasts were reported across Afghanistan as voters headed to the polls and troops flooded the streets of the capital amid security concerns and Taliban threats to disrupt the balloting process.

Still, at some polling stations in the capital, voters had lined up even before the centres opened, while in others, election workers had yet to arrive by poll opening time.

Imam Baksh, who works as a security guard, said he wasn't worried about his safety as he stood waiting to mark his ballot, wondering who he would vote for.

"All of them have been so disappointing for our country," he said.

The vote marks the culmination of a bloody election campaign that is seen as a two-horse race between President Ashraf Ghani and his bitter rival, Abdullah Abdullah, the country's chief executive.

In recent months, the Taliban, who unleashed a string of bombings during the two-month campaign, issued repeated warnings that they intend to attack polling centres.

At least 15 people were wounded in the southern city of Kandahar when a bomb went off at a polling station about two hours after voting began, said one hospital director, and officials across the country reported several small explosions at other election sites.

Explosions also hit the Afghan cities of Kabul, Ghazni and Jalalabad, officials said.

The Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for some of the attacks.

TRT World spoke to Idrees Stanikzai, leader of Youth Trend Afghanistan, for more.

Polling stations closed

More than 400 polling centres will remain closed because they are situated in areas under Taliban control. Hundreds more will be closed because of security concerns.

The voting process is another source of concern. The country's Independent Election Commission has come under criticism for issuing contradictory and unclear statements over what processes will be in place to prevent fraud if biometric systems fail during the eight hours of voting.

Four of the 18 candidates registered to contest for the top job have dropped out of t he race, but their names remain on the biometric voting devices.

The leading contenders are incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and his partner in the 5-year-old unity government, Abdullah Abdullah, who already alleges power abuse by his opponent.

Fear and frustration at the relentless corruption that has characterised successive governments ranks high among the concerns of Afghanistan's 9.6 million eligible voters.

Tens of thousands of police, intelligence officials and Afghan National Army personnel have been deployed throughout the country to protect the 4,942 election centres. 

Authorities said 431 polling centers would stay closed because it was impossible to guarantee their security since they were either in areas under Taliban control or in which militants could threaten nearby villages.

In Kabul, traffic was light, with police and the army scattered throughout the city, stopping cars and looking for anything out of the ordinary. The Taliban said they would take particular aim at Afghanistan's cities.

Outfitted in bullet-proof vests, their rifles by their side, soldiers slowed traffic to a crawl as they searched vehicles. 

Larger vehicles were not being allowed into the capital on Saturday, which is a usual working day but for the elections was declared a holiday.

Source: AP