Afghanistan's latest partial presidential election results show that
incumbent President Hamid Karzai has further extended his lead,
although it is far too early to predict a final outcome.
Elections officials say the latest figures include votes counted at 35
percent of the polling stations used in the August 20 vote.
Authorities say of the votes counted so far, Mr. Karzai leads by 46
percent, compared to his main rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has 31
President Karzai still does not have enough votes to avoid a run-off in
the election, which has been plagued by claims of widespread fraud.
Separately, the U.S. State Department on Saturday denied Afghan media
reports that the United States is encouraging the formation of a
coalition government in Afghanistan.
The statement said the United States does not support or oppose any
candidate, and is only interested in a credible election process.
Meanwhile, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise visit
to British troops in southern Afghanistan Saturday. He promised troops
more support in their battle against Taliban insurgents, and equipment
to protect them from roadside bombs.
In southern Zabul province Saturday, a suicide bomber attacked a NATO
patrol in a market, killing two civilians and wounding 21 others.
The local district governor (Abdul Qayoum) said the troops were on a foot patrol in a market in Shah Joy when the suicide bomber blew himself up next to them.
There are more than 100,000 NATO and U.S.-led coalition forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.