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Afghan polls open in run-off presidential election

The run-off election will decide whether former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani leads the country into a new era with declining international military and civilian assistance. President Hamid Karzai is due to step down after ruling the country since 2001 when a US-led offensive ousted the austere Taliban regime for sheltering al-Qaeda militants behind the 9/11 attacks. Afghan officials and international allies are hoping for a repeat of the first-round vote in April when the insurgents failed to launch a single high-profile attack and voter turnout was more than 50%. But the stakes are high with the Taliban issuing specific threats to target polling…