Kabul, Afghanistan — An explosion ripped through Afghanistan‘s capital on Sunday, killing at least 57 people and wounding over a hundred as they lined up to register to vote. Reports indicated the deaths of five children and 21 women, though specific numbers of casualties are still rising and remain unclear. A suicide bomber had placed himself near the waiting line where prospective voters were to receive their national identification cards, and detonated himself in the fourth attack on voting registration centers since the beginning of the month, according to BBC.
ISIS has since claimed responsibility.
Afghani President Ashraf Ghani said that, “I condemn the heinous terrorist attacks in Kabul and Pul-e-Khumri. I wish Allah’s mercy upon those who martyred, speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey my deep condolences to victims’ families. I instructed relevant institutions to provide support and care to those affected.”
John R. Bass, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, said in a tweet: “I strongly condemn this morning’s suicide attack on a voter registration center in #Kabul and offer my condolences to the victims and their families. This senseless violence shows the cowardice and inhumanity of the enemies of democracy and peace in #Afghanistan.”
The voter registration is in preparation for the parliamentary and district council elections that are supposed to occur in the fall. However, security concerns, constant delays and fraudulent voting have all contributed to low turnouts, thereby contributing to consistent delays in the voting process. There are also concerns regarding legitimate voting being held in areas that are controlled by the Taliban.
When it comes to security, things get significantly more difficult when the assailant doesn’t mind dying in the process — an assassination attempt is a lot harder to prevent if the assassin doesn’t necessarily want to make it out alive. This obviously applies to suicide bombers.
There are several ways to detect suicide bombers, some methods more reliable than others, but in a crowd like this where no one is looking, there is really not a whole lot anyone can do without high levels of security in every voting registration center across the country — something they simply cannot afford.
It was approximately 70 degrees on Sunday morning when the bomb went off, and so too warm for bulky jackets or sweaters that would likely be used to conceal explosives. Realistically, suspicious looking characters with bulky jackets usually only warrants a double-take from a couple of passerbys and not much else. And even then, if someone confronts a suicide bomber it’s likely they are just going to detonate themselves right then and there.
Suffice to say, these suicide attacks on civilian populations are very difficult to stop as they are happening. That means the efforts to stop the attacks are reliant on finding the would-be attackers and their organizations before it happens.
Featured image: A relative of a victim cries outside a voter registration center which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, April 22, 2018. Gen. Daud Amin, the Kabul police chief, said the suicide bomber targeted civilians who had gathered to receive national identification cards. (AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul)