Afghanistan began registering voters on Monday for elections due next year that will test support for President Hamid Karzai and democracy itself which is threatened by a virulent Taliban insurgency in which thousands have died.

The lack of security could well derail the election process depending on how much the Taliban decide or are able to intimidate the people against participating, but early signs were the militants have already begun campaigning against the polls.

"Just now we have received some information that in some areas anti-government elements were trying to stop people from registering themselves as voters already," Zekria Barakzai, deputy head of the Independent Election Commission, told Reuters.

"They are preaching at the mosques asking people not to vote or register themselves," he said.

One truck carrying registration forms has already been torched in the northeast, but that may have been due to criminal activity, a security expert said.