Afghanistan election: Multiple blasts reported at Kabul polling stations | News | DW | 20.10.2018
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Afghanistan election: Multiple blasts reported at Kabul polling stations

Afghanistan's first parliamentary election since 2010 has been hit by violence and chaos, with several attacks killing at least 36 people. Authorities faced outrage over poor organization and technical glitches.

A suicide attack at a polling station outside Kabul killed at least 15 people on Saturday, with several others dying in scores of bombings, rocket attacks and incidents of violence across the country.

Over 170 people have reportedly been killed or wounded as voters went to around 21,000 polling stations.

Technical issues forced the closure of some of the stations, while voting hours were extended until Sunday in other areas.

Read more: Afghanistan violence raises uncertainty over elections, Kandahar vote delayed

How voting day was marred

  • At least 18 people were killed and 67 injured in blasts close to polling stations in several areas of the capital, Kabul.
  • In eastern Nangarhar province, an explosion left at least two people dead and three injured, and in northern Takhar province, at least one person was killed and eight others injured when a suspected Taliban rocket hit their home, said local leaders.
  • Rockets fired from the outskirts of northern Kunduz city struck near polling stations, injuring several people, dpa reported.
  • Several polling stations stayed shut due to technical issues, including missing biometric systems, and the non-arrival of voter registration lists, officials said.
  • Hours into polling, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said voting would be extended until 8 p.m. local time (1530 UTC) across much of the country. It said some polling stations, where election materials arrived late, would postpone voting until Sunday.
  • The provinces of Ghazni and Kandahar — the scene of Thursday's violent attack — postponed polling for a week.

Read more: The high price of Afghanistan's broken democracy

Anger at voting irregularities

Many of the people trained to use the biometric machines did not show up for work, as Taliban warned the voters to boycott the ballot "to protect their lives."

One election observer from Kabul province told DW: "Everything is a mess ... nothing is working. The systems they have put in place are not functioning."

Sami Mahdi, a parliamentary candidate in Kabul, accused the election commission of "mismanagement." He added: "Our observers have also witnessed cases of fraud but we will have to assess these reports."

Yosuf Rashid, from the election oversight organization Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), said it was too early to pass a judgment on the whole process. "I hope by the end of the day, the election commission learns from its mistakes and addresses these issues tomorrow." 

Meanwhile, Aziz Ibrahimi, deputy spokesman for the Independent Election Commission, admitted to DW that there had been some irregularities: "The commission has decided to extend elections in centers which did not start work on time. But we do not know how many centers will remain open tomorrow."

Read more: Afghanistan election: Can young candidates turn things around?

mm, dj/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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