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Multiple bombings at voter registration centers in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul and Pul-e-Khumri killed at least 63 people and wounded one hundred more, according to reports from Al Jazeera and BBC News. The first bomb, which detonated in Kabul at roughly 10 AM local time, killed 57 people, while the second, in Pul-e-Khumri, killed six people when a car struck a roadside explosive. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the more deadly Kabul attack, though no group or individual has yet claimed the smaller attack in Pul-e-Khumri.
The first attack occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi area of Kabul, where many of Afghanistan’s Shia minority community resides. ISIS’s news groups, while claiming responsibility for the attack, also stated that it intentionally targeted Shia “apostates,” according to NPR’s reporting. At least five of those killed were children, and Afghan police have reported that at least 21 of those killed were women. The six victims killed in Pul-e-Khumri were all from the same family, though their ages have not been reported.
There have been four prior attacks on voting centres in Afghanistan since voter registration began a week ago. The election in question is the long-delayed legislative election (which will elect members of parliament and district councils), which is set to occur on October 20 of this year. According to security experts, more than 1000 voting centers are under threat, and 950 are completely outside government control. Previous attacks on voting centers have been claimed by both ISIS and the Taliban. There have also been multiple attacks on other targets in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year, including the storming of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and the detonation of a car bomb that killed nearly 100 people.
The country’s Independent Election Committee has stated that it hopes up to 15 million people will register to vote. However, voter registration has been low thus far, and the numbers are further depressed by ISIS and the Taliban’s attacks. If these attacks continue and registration numbers remain low, there are concerns that the vote may be delayed once more despite the fact that elections are already three years behind schedule.
President Ghani has called upon his citizens to continue to register and vote despite the attacks, while Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN’s top representative in the country, has voiced his fears that these attacks are deliberately targeted to suppress voter registration and prevent Afghani citizens from carrying out their constitutional right to vote.