Suicide bomber targets electoral officials in Kabul

At least six people were injured after a suicide bomber detonated explosives near Afghanistan‘s election commission headquarters in Kabul on Monday, officials said.

At least four officials of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and two policemen were wounded in the attack, Najib Danish, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said.

The attack came as officials at the IEC have begun counting votes after much-delayed parliamentary polls in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces were completed last week.

“The suicide bomber blew himself up next to a car of an IEC staff member that was parked near a police checkpoint,” said an IEC official.

It was not clear how many people were present at the time of the attack around the election commission’s sprawling compound located near an arterial road in the city.

Millions of Afghans risked their lives to vote in the elections that were held over two weekends.

The ballot, which the Taliban had vowed to attack, was marred by deadly violence, with hundreds killed or wounded in scores of attacks.

IEC figures suggest around half of the nearly nine million people registered to vote actually cast a ballot.
More than 2,500 candidates are competing for the 250 seats in the lower house.

The election is seen as a dry run for next year’s presidential vote and an important milestone in advance of a UN meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.

With vote counting under way, the IEC is scheduled to release preliminary results on November 10.

But problems with untested biometric verification devices and missing or incomplete voter rolls are likely to trigger debate over which votes are valid.

So far, the electoral body has received thousands of complaints following the vote.

On Saturday, voters in Kandahar, the southern birthplace of the Taliban and a province notorious for ballot stuffing, went to the polls.

While preparations had been “better” in Kandahar compared with the previous weekend, hiccups with biometric devices and voter lists persisted.

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