Karzai comfortably in the lead; Kunduz Governor: NATO air strike kills up to 90, including 40 civilians; Gen. McChrystal visits site of the air strike; NATO orders probe; NATO Secretary-General calls for greater NATO-EU cooperation
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  • Reports indicated that with three-quarters of votes counted, incumbent Hamid Karzai with 48.6 per cent of the votes was comfortably in the lead. He was followed by Abdullah Abdullah with 31.7 per cent. The Independent Election Commission official Daud Ali Najafi stated in a press conference in Kabul that out of 4.3 million valid votes, Karzai had secured 2.08 million while Dr. Abdullah won 1.36 million. Ramazan Bashardost was a distant third, with less than half a million votes1. Karzai was ahead in 19 provinces, Dr. Abdullah in 12 and Bashardost in three provinces2. Results from 447 of about 28,000 polling stations were annulled due to allegations of fraud.

    Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar stated that a NATO air strike on September 4 on two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan killed 90 people, including 40 civilians. NATO on its part confirmed that there was an air strike in Kunduz but did not give details of the casualty figures3. However, the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal visited the scene of the air strike the next day, given the criticism against past alliance activities that have resulted in civilian deaths. NATO also launched an investigation on the pre-dawn strike4.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meanwhile urged closer cooperation between the NATO and the EU in Afghanistan and stated that the current lack of cooperation was endangering troops on the ground. Rasmussen stated that he would soon launch an initiative to address the problem5.

    In other developments, a CNN opinion poll whose results were revealed on September 1 showed that US domestic support for the war in Afghanistan had fallen to an all-time low. Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed stated that they opposed the war, while 42 percent backed the mission. The number of respondents opposing the war rose by 11 percentage points since April 2009 and was the highest since the conflict began in October 20016.