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Rocket strikes Afghan capital


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President Karzai has urged the electorate to vote without fear.
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KABUL, Afghanistan -- A rocket has exploded above the U.S. military compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the eve of the country's landmark presidential elections, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force said.

The rocket landed near the election commission's media accreditation center compound and was being disarmed. No casualties were reported, he told CNN.

The rockets hit just before 1.30 a.m. (2100 GMT).

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Beth Lee told CNN that diplomatic staff members -- shaken from their beds -- were ordered to take cover in underground bunkers, but were soon allowed to leave.

The ISAF is an international peacekeeping force authorized by the U.N. Security Council in December 2001.

Reuters reported their journalists hearing the all-clear message being given at the U.S. base but access roads were blocked.

Kabul and other cities have been braced for attacks from Taliban fighters and their allies in the run-up to Saturday's presidential election -- the first time Afghans vote for their leader in a direct vote.

Hours earlier two other rockets were fired near a base used by Italian troops with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Reuters reported.

A Reuters correspondent at Camp Activia, the base for the 850-strong Italian contingent, said the rockets were fired at around 8 p.m. (1630 GMT) but missed the camp.

The vote has been delayed twice as violence wracked the nation and now tens of thousands of national and international troops are trying to keep order so Afghans can cast their vote in peace.

President Hamid Karzai campaigned on Tuesday for the first time since an attack on him last month, where he told supporters that the vote was a turning point for the nation.

"This vote is not just to choose a president, but for peace and stability in Afghanistan," said Karzai, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush.

"Instead of fighting, we are campaigning for our elections. We should be proud that we have freedom at last." (Full story)


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