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August 28, 2009

Ballots, bullets and bombs in Afghanistan

Earlier this year, Afghanistan embarked on its second presidential campaign season, with over forty candidates registering to run for president, and over 3,000 candidates for provincial offices. The election itself took place on August 20th, and the results are still being tallied - but, according to preliminary results, the two front-runners are current president Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. Members of the Taliban boycotted the election process and threatened those who participated with violence. Although security was heavy, nearly 800 polling stations (out of 7,000) were not opened due to feared insecurity - insurgent attacks having spiked in frequency leading up to the 20th. The Afghan government also issued a ban on media coverage of violence during election day, fearing such news would drive down turnout. Find below photos from around Afghanistan during its recent election. (40 + 3 photos total)

An Afghan woman displays her finger marked with indelible ink after casting her vote at a polling station in Kabul on August 20, 2009. Afghans voted to elect a president for just the second time in their war-torn history as a massive security clampdown swung into action to prevent threatened Taliban attacks derailing the ballot. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

An Afghan man carries ballot boxes as he guides his donkey loaded with election supplies in the rugged mountains of the Panjshir valley on August 19, 2009. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Afghan President Hamid Karzai holds up his ink-stained finger as he gestures during a news conference on election day in Kabul August 20, 2009. Millions of Afghans went to the polls on Thursday, defying Taliban threats of violence and sporadic attacks across the country to choose a president in the midst of a worsening war. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

Afghan presidential candidate and former foreign minister Dr. Abdullah Abdullah addresses his supporters, during a campaign stop in his key supporting province of Takhar, on August 16, 2009 in Taloqan, Afghanistan. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Sealed ballot boxes are seen piled up at an election commission office in Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #

An Afghan election worker counts votes at a polling station in Kabul on August 21, 2009. Faced with a sea of unknown faces, many Afghans confessed they saw little option but to pick the pretty girl, the TV star or the good Muslim in a turban when voting for provincial councillors. About 3,400 people ranging from elderly tribal chiefs to young students - almost a tenth of them women - ran for provincial council seats in elections held simultaneously with presidential polls on August 20. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan man watches as election workers count votes at a polling station in Kabul on August 21, 2009. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah film his speech with mobile phones at a rally in Kokcha, located in Afghanistan's northern Takhar province August 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Jonathon Burch) #

An Afghan girl watches a speech from Afghan presidential candidate and current President Hamid Karzai on television during the presidential candidates' live debate in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 16, 2009. (AP Photo/Farzana Wahidy) #

Afghan women and a child walk past a wall with images of presidential and provincial council candidates in Kabul August 18, 2009.(REUTERS/Ahmad Masood) #

A young child looks through a gate as an American Marine keeps watch whilst on patrol in Khan Neshin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, the furthest south of any coalition troops and near the border of Pakistan Tuesday Aug. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Lewis Whyld/PA Wire) #

A U.S. soldier from the 3-71 Cavalry fires his weapon during a gun-battle with Taliban fighters in the village of Bargematal, Nuristan province, August 25, 2009. (REUTERS/Oleg Popov) #

Spc. Ken Dykes, 19, of Greenville, Tennessee, holds the hand of another soldier as they both lie wounded side by side in a medivac helicopter after their armored vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Tangi Valley of Afghanistan's Wardak Province on Aug. 19, 2009. The soldiers serve in the Army's Apache Company 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Combat Brigade 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, N.Y. One soldier, Spc. Justin R. Pellerin, 21, of Boscawen, N.H. (not pictured) was killed in the attack [ed. note, Pellerin, of Bravo company, was killed in a different attack in the Nerkh District] (incident also seen in this photograph from earlier this week). (AP Photo/David Goldman) #

A U.S. soldier of 2-12 Infantry 4BCT-4ID Task Force Mountain Warrior rests during a night operation near Michigan camp, at the Pesh valley of Kunar Province, August 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria) #

Afghan National Army soldiers sit around drinking tea after breaking their daily Ramadan fast after sunset in the village of Dahaneh, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) #

Afghan men are pictured on the site of a bomb blast in Kandahar city on August 25, 2009. A massive bomb ripped through the downtown area of the troubled Afghan city of Kandahar, killing up to 36 people and wounding dozens near hotels and government offices, officials said. The truck bomb ripped through 10 residential buildings, trapping casualties under the rubble as rescue workers frantically tried to dig them out of the debris under the cover of darkness, officials said. (HAMED ZALMY/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man holds a charred Kabul car license plate at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, August 18, 2009. Seven people were killed and 52 wounded by a suicide car bomber who rammed his car into a convoy of Western troops in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, said Farid Raeed an official at the public health ministry. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson) #

A man wounded in a suicide car attack leaves the site of the blast in Kabul on August 18, 2009. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A crane lifts the bodies of two cows near the scene of Tuesday's car bomb explosions, to be butchered and distributed to those suffering from the explosions in Kandahar, south of Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan) #

Afghan children play soccer at sunset in Kabul on August 19, 2009 on the eve of Presidential elections. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Afghan boy wears a hat showing candidate and president Hamid Karzai in Kabul, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

A French soldier wears a visor and face cover to protect himself from the dust as he patrols in Deh Rawod, in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan on August 17, 2009. (PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images) #

U.S. Marine Cpl. Russell pays his respects to Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard during a memorial service at a forward operating base with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, 2nd MEB, 3rd MEF, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009, in Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was mortally wounded during a Taliban ambush on Aug. 14. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) #

An Afghan stands in front of a poster of President Hamid Karzai on August 27, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

Afghan men carry voting materials at a polling station in Jamee Mosque in Herat, western Afghanistan August 19, 2009. (REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi) #

Taliban fighters pose with their weapons while detaining a man for campaigning for presidential candidate Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan on August 19, 2009. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

Afghan police carry the bodies of three suspected insurgents in the back of a truck after they were killed in a gunfight in Kabul, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. Gunfire and explosions reverberated through the heart of the Afghan capital Wednesday on the eve of the presidential election after three militants with AK-47s rifles and hand grenades overran a bank. Police stormed the building and killed the three insurgents, officials said. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer) #

A boy walks inside his home at a camp for internally displaced people from Helmand province, on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) #

Men cast their ballots at a polling station in Kabul, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) #

Abdul Hamid rests after carrying polling materials inside the Friday Mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das) #

Afghan women wait in line to vote at a polling station on August 20, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

A woman walks up to a voting booth at a polling station in Herat, Afghanistan on August 20, 2009. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images) #

A worker rests on top of ballot boxes at a warehouse of the Independent Election Commission center (IEC) on August 24, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

Afghan election employees wait for voters at a deserted polling station in Kabul on August 20, 2009. Voter turnout in a number of regions was very low, blamed largely on the lack of security and Taliban threats. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images) #

Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah carry balloons at a campaign rally at Kabul's National Stadium, Monday, Aug. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) #

A girl holds a puppy as the sun sets over Kabul's impoverished Teppe Maranjan neighborhood, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009 in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) #

Afghan men walk among ruins of brick factories on the outskirts of Kabul August 16, 2009. (REUTERS/Ahmad Masood (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) #

An Afghani police officer rests his weapon on a ballot at a polling station in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Aug. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh) #

Election workers tally up the presidential election returns at the National Tally Center of the Independence Election Commission in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq) #

A young boy flies a kite in the old part of the city of Herat, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. Afghans will head to the polls on Aug. 20 to elect the new president. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das) #

Photographing Afghanistan

As a sort of epilogue to the photos above, I'd like to share with you three images from the past few weeks depicting what it really means to be a photographer in Afghanistan these days.

AP photographer Emilio Morenatti takes pictures as he is carried on a stretcher out of the University of Maryland Medical Center's R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center to be transferred to the Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital in Baltimore, Tuesday Aug. 25, 2009. Morenatti, whose left foot was amputated after he was injured by a bomb blast in Afghanistan, was transferred Tuesday to a rehabilitation hospital in Baltimore, where he will be fitted for a prosthesis. (AP Photo/Enric Marti) #

An Afghan National Policeman threatenens photographers with his weapon as they attempt to secure the site of a bank where gunmen attacked on August 19, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images) #

(And, from another angle:) An Afghan policeman aims his weapon at photojournalists Paula Bronstein and Kevin Frayer as he prevents them from approaching the area where three gunmen stormed a bank in Kabul on August 19, 2009. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images) #