Attacks against civilians during the electoral process in Afghanistan

President Ghani’s supporters attend his rally in Kabul President Ghani’s supporters attend his rally in Kabul Omar Sobhani/Reuters

Hundreds of people were injured or killed by Taliban attacks to prevent citizens from voting

Presidential elections in Afghanistan had already been delayed twice, and were finally held on 28 September 2019, not without significant difficulties. Talibans had publicly declared their intention to disturb the election procedures. Indeed, the attacks occurred not only in the very day of elections, but also in previous weeks and months.

On 28 July, the Green Trend party office in Kabul was targeted. Amrullah Saleh, a vice-presidential candidate, was meeting some supporters, when the building was damaged by external explosions and entered by men carrying weapons. One of them was a suicide bomber. 21 people died and 50 were injured.

On 17 September, during incumbent President Ghani’s election rally, hosted by the Afghan National Police training centre, a suicide attack caused 30 deaths and 51 injured. In that occasion, the Talibans warned people not to attend such political events, as they would have been targeted again.

On the polling day, more than 70 thousand members of the security forces were deployed across the whole country to protect citizens casting their vote. Despite security personnel, however, 28 citizens died and 249 were injured in 100 separate attacks. Moreover, two days after the elections, a man delivering ballot boxes to the city of Gardez was shot and injured. 

Not all the casualties occurred in the polling sites: UNAMA (United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan) reported attacks against residential houses, schools, district headquarters. 

In addition to that, UNAMA describes several episodes of abductions, threats, intimidation and harassment. For example, 8 members of election staff were abducted in Parwan province; illegal check posts were established by Talibans to prevent voters from reaching their destination; shots were fired against polling centres; lettres of menaces were delivered in Gelan district of Ghazni province.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, commented: “Deliberate acts of violence against voters, election workers, campaigners, election rally sites and polling centres are completely unacceptable. Widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations may constitute crimes against humanity; the United Nations unequivocally condemns them.” 



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Author: Margherita Liverani

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