Aiming to disrupt the election process, a series of attacks have targeted the election process in different parts of the country. The latest attacks happened on Saturday evening when a suicide attack that targeted an Election Campaign Rally in Takhar province killing at least 22 people and dozen others wounded. Officials confirmed that the death toll at an election rally explosion has risen to 22 and 36 wounded. It happened as motorcycle bomb was detonated just before 2pm local time targeting the campaign rally of Nazifa Beg, a female candidate from Rustaq district of Takhar. She is one of 417 women contesting parliament seats across the country, more than ever before. As quoted from Takhar police said moments after the explosion at least 12 people were killed, and 32 others wounded, but later the local officials said the death toll is up to 22 with two security force members are also among those killed in the explosion. No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
This is the third deadly attack against the election campaign process this month. The last attack comes after an attack at a campaign office in Helmand province which claimed the lives of eight people including the election candidate, Saleh Mohammad Achakzai. On October 3, an explosion targeted an election rally in Nangarhar, killing 14 people killed. At least eight candidates have been killed in insurgent attacks since the beginning of July, soon after the candidate registration process was finalized. On September 25, Nasir Mubarez, a candidate for the Kochis, from Kandahar, was killed by unknown armed men in a shooting in Kandahar City. On September 2, Anwar Niazi, a Parwan candidate, was killed and two others wounded when a magnetic IED was detonated against the vehicle they were traveling in. The incident took place in Kabul city center, in Shirpoor, in PD10, at about 7pm local time.
In August, Jalal Salehi, a candidate from Kabul, was killed during a security forces operation in Kabul’s Shakar Dara district. Another candidate, former member of Ghazni provincial council, Sayed Obaidullah Sadat, was killed in Ghazni on July 14 by unknown armed men. On July 1, the Afghan Sikh and Hindu community leader, Ottar Singh Khalsa, who was running for parliamentary elections, was killed in a suicide attack in Jalalabad city in Nangarhar province. And on July 30, another Nangarhar candidate, Hayatullah Khan Rahmani, was killed when a suicide bomber targeted him in Rodat district in the province. Overall, more than 2,500 candidates are running for 249 parliamentary seats in the October 20 elections.
Many countries and organization strongly condemn the brutal attacks on the election; President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement, saying that the enemies of Afghans cannot weaken the will of the nation for the success of the democratic process of elections. US Ambassador to Kabul John Bass also condemned the attack and called on the Taliban to do the same. He said if the group is serious about the peace process it will do the same and punish those responsible.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia also condemned and blasted targeted the election campaign gathering in Tukhar. They also reject such subversive and terrorist acts, declares taking the side of the sisterly Islamic Republic of Afghanistan against terrorism and extremism, offering condolences and consolation to the victims as well as the government and people of fraternal Afghanistan, and wishing the injured, speedy recovery.
Anyway, the attack on Takhar election rally comes after the recent Taliban Warning! They had warned that they would pull no punches to disrupt the fake process. They also warned the candidates that their actions are only empowering the American-led conspiracy. The Taliban tells candidates that “our creed, country” and “people” cannot “be served under the shadow of foreign occupying forces.” “Instead, your nomination and success directly supports the vicious objectives of American invaders by legitimizing their bogus procedures and conspiracies, which is indeed supporting them in killing the pious Muslims and destroying the country by extending the ongoing war,” the Taliban says. “Therefore you should refrain from participating in this process due to your Afghan identity and perception.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said they are concerned about elections-related violence in Afghanistan. “United Nations remains deeply concerned about ongoing elections-related violence in Afghanistan, including today’s Herat and Takhar attacks that initial reports indicate killed & injured scores of civilians at campaign events,” UNAMA tweeted. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), nearly 2,800 civilians were killed and over 5,200 sustained injuries in military action in Afghanistan in the period from January to September 2018.
In response to the series of events, the Afghan Military forces inform of deploying thousands of security forces and severe operation to protect the election process throughout the country. Recently, the deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Nusrat Rahimi, told reporters last week that “54 thousand defense and security forces are assigned to secure 5,100 polling centers which included 21,000 polling stations on Election Day.” Based on their latest reports Oct 13, they launched 22 joint in various parts of the country with support of ANA forces, in which 76 armed terrorists were killed and 40 others have been injured. According to national defense ministry press office to BNA, the operations were conducted in Khost, Ghazni, Helmand, Nangarhar, Logar, Paktia, Kandhar, Faryab, Baghlan, Herat, Badghis, Badakhshan, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Nimroz provinces.
The Ministry of Interior Affairs (MoI) accepts that 11 districts are under control of Taliban and 19 other districts are under high-security threats. The MoI Spokesman Najib Danish on Saturday said that these 11 districts are located in northern and southeastern provinces including Dahan-e-Ghori in Baghlan, Nawa in Ghazni, Wardoj-Yamgan in Badakhshan, Kohistanat in Sar-e-Pul, Kakar in Zabul, Nawzad, Musaqala, Khanshin, and Baghran-Deshu in Helmand. The official, however, assured of maintaining the security of the elections across the country.