Afghanistan voting registration centers were rocked by suicide bombers on Sunday as the Islamic State terrorists, unable to force their way into any long-term presence in the country being pushed out by the U.S. are trying to disrupt the voting process as much as possible.
As a crowd lined up outside a voter registration center in Kabul on Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 57 people in the deadliest of a spate of attacks targeting Afghanistan’s upcoming elections, officials said.
Six more people were killed when a vehicle struck a roadside bomb near a voter registration center in the northern province of Baghlan, the fifth attack in a week on the election process, Afghan media reported.
The Kabul attack, in a western neighborhood heavily populated with members of the Hazara ethnic group, targeted a compound where government statistics officials were distributing national identification cards.
The number of casualties climbed steadily throughout the day, and by nightfall it stood at 57 dead and 119 wounded, said Wahidullah Majrooh, a spokesman for the Health Ministry.
At least five of the dead were children, believed to have been students at a nearby high school.
Witnesses said only two police officers were guarding the center, adding to fears that Afghan security forces were ill-prepared to stop insurgent attacks on parliamentary elections scheduled for October.
The bomber detonated his vest in the crowd before he could be searched by police, said Hashmat Stanikzai, a Kabul police spokesman. He could not confirm how many officers were posted at the center.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying its target was Shiite Muslims; most Hazaras are Shiites. The Sunni extremist group has claimed several high-profile bombings against Shiites in Afghanistan, including one at a mosque in October that left more than 50 dead.
Witnesses had complained to police a day before the bombing that there was far too little security at the registration center, which is located in a residential area. Haji Zaman, a tribal elder, said that on Saturday more than 100 people were waiting in line outside the compound with just two police officers guarding the center.
“I argued with policemen and some more people came to support me, saying there’s no security outside the compound and people shouldn’t gather there,” Zaman said. He said he called the head of the center and told him to shut it down because civilians could be at risk
Civilians are apathetic about voting for precisely what transpired this weekend, they feel the government can’t protect them nor speak to the many problems that face the country.
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Photo courtesy AP