Saturday's presidential elections in Afghanistan mark a pivotal moment for the country. The current president, Hamid Karzai, came to power after the American invasion in 2001. Karzai will end his 12 years in office just months before the U.S. withdraws most, if not all, troops from the country, ending America's longest war. As Afghans prepare to cast their votes, the Taliban has launched a bloody new offensive targeting foreigners, polling places, and Afghan officials in Kabul.
Eleven candidates now compete against each other and the violence aimed at undermining the election, to become Afghanistan's next president and shape their country's future.
Here's your guide to the leading candidates, along with scenes from the tense days before the election.
At left, Abdul Rasul Sayaf, a hardline Islamist and former mujahideen leader, is surrounded by his supporters in the western Afghan city of Herat on March 25, 2014.