Afghanistan: Three killed, 130 injured as explosions rock several polling stations in Kabul
Multiple blasts rocked polling booths across Kabul on Saturday, as voting in the legislative elections was underway, official sources said. At least 13 people were killed and more than 130 wounded in multiple explosions across Kabul. Hundreds of polling centres failed to open due to technical glitches and lack of staff.
The Italian NGO Emergency said 37 people had been taken to its trauma hospital in Kabul, including a dead child.
An Independent Election Commission (IEC) employee was killed and seven others were missing after the Taliban attacked a polling centre in the northern province of Kunduz, destroying ballot boxes, provincial IEC director Mohammad Rasoul Omar said.
The Taliban claimed it carried out 166 attacks on voting locations, checkpoints and military sites on Saturday morning. Taliban issued several warnings in the days leading up to the poll, calling on candidates to withdraw from the race and for voters to stay home.
At least ten candidates out of more than 2,500 contesting the lower-house election have been killed.
Election organisers, who have been skewered over their shambolic preparations for the long-delayed ballot, extended voting until Sunday for 360 polling centres after hiccups with voter registration lists and biometric verification devices caused lengthy delays.
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The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which has spearheaded international efforts to keep Afghan organisers on track, on Friday called on voters to "exercise their constitutional right to vote".
Almost nine million people registered to vote in the parliamentary election, which is more than three years late. But attacks across the country on Saturday are likely to deter many from turning up at the nearly 5,000 polling centres.
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Preliminary results will be released on November 10 but there are concerns they could be thrown into turmoil if the biometric verification devices are broken, lost or destroyed.
Votes cast without the controversial machines will not be counted, the IEC has said.