Rival campaign teams claim victory in Afghan election

Spokesmen for President Karzai and rival Abdullah Abdullah claim victory

Elections workers in Afghanistan have begun counting the votes of millions of Afghans following Thursday's presidential election.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's campaign chief claims that he has won enough votes to be re-elected without a second round. Deen Mohammad said Karzai had secured at least 50 per cent of all votes cast based on reports from 29,000 monitors his campaign team had placed across the country.

However, a spokesman for Karzai's main competitor, Abdullah Abdullah, also claimed victory. "It isn't true," he said. "We also say, 'Maybe we don't need a second round and Abdullah won'."

Turnout was affected by a series of Taliban attacks, particularly in the troubled south of the country. Soon after the polls opened a series of blasts took place in Helmand's provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

Rockets fired into the city killed a child and EU election observers and journalists had their vehicle hit by a small roadside bomb. Zekria Barakzai, an official from the Afghan Election Commission, said: "The turnout was different from south to the north and central parts of Afghanistan but still it is satisfactory and I expect that turnout will be from 40 to 50%".

The official results are due to be announced next week.