April 1, 2014 / 9:45 AM / 6 years ago

Afghan forces say seize tons of explosives ahead of election

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces have seized more than 22 tons of explosives, enough to make hundreds of bombs, the interior ministry said on Tuesday, four days before a presidential election.

Taliban insurgents have declared war on the April 5 vote, calling it a Western-backed sham and threatening to disrupt it.

“This discovery will prevent hundreds of bomb attacks and would have a significant impact on the overall security of the elections,” Sediq Sediqqi, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

Authorities are keen to show they are capable of keeping the vote safe and orderly as most foreign troops prepare to leave the country by the end of the year.

Sediqqi said the explosives, hidden in some 450 bags, were seized from a basement in the relatively peaceful northern province of Takhar, where the Taliban have gained ground in recent years.

Major cities have been placed on high alert this week with 352,000 security forces deployed around the country to prevent attacks on polling stations and other installations.

Home-made bombs produced from such explosives are by far the most lethal weapon used by insurgents and remain the single biggest killer of civilians as well as Afghan and the NATO-led international force in the country.

Reporting by Hamid Shalizi and Mirwais Harooni, Editing by Maria Golovnina and Ron Popeski

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