The Latest: Suicide blast kills 3 at Afghan polling station
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Latest on parliamentary elections in Afghanistan (all times local):
Police say a suicide bomber blew himself up in front of a polling station in a school in the northern Kabul neighborhood of Khair Khana, the first major attack in Saturday’s parliamentary elections. A doctor treating the wounded said three people were killed and six wounded.
Waheed Ullah, a police officer, said ambulances were roaring toward the hospital with victims. Dr. Mashook Hakimi was working with the ambulances to get the injured to hospital.
Both the upstart local Islamic State affiliate and the Taliban threatened violence during elections, warning people to stay away from the polls. Instead, outside most polling stations there were lines of people waiting to mark their ballot.
The Taliban further warned teachers and students to not allow schools to be used as polling stations. The suicide attack targeted a school where a polling station was set up.
The closing of polls in Saturday’s Parliamentary elections were as chaotic as the opening with even the Independent Election Commission uncertain of how many of the estimated 21,000 polling stations closed by 4 p.m. local time, the original closing time.
As the day began it quickly became clear that polling stations were struggling with voters list and a new biometric system aimed at stemming fraud but instead created enormous confusion because many of those trained on the system did not show up for work. Also the biometric machines were received just a month before polls and there was no time to do field testing.
Even before elections, the election commission chairman Abdul Badi Sayat warned of possible glitches and bemoaned the lack of adequate testing.
Earlier Saturday Sayat extended voting until 8 p.m. local time for all those polling stations that opened late, with many opening as much as five hours behind schedule.
For those polling stations that could not open before 1 p.m. local time, they would open Sunday for voting, said Sayat.
An Afghan provincial government official says two people died and 22 were injured when insurgents fired several rockets and mortars at a variety of targets in the Baghlani Markazi district in an attempt to terrorize voters casting their ballots in parliamentary elections.
Zabihullah Shuja, of Baghlan province, said the attack Saturday did not deter voters who continued to make their way to polling stations to cast their ballot.
In a separate attack, also in Baghlan, a bomb detonated in the capital of Pul-e-Kumri injuring one person, said Shuja. He added that Taliban insurgents also engaged in a firefight with security personnel at check posts on the main roadways.
In other election-related incidents, insurgents fired rockets at the education department building in Wardak provincial capital of Maidan Shahr, south of the Afghan capital Kabul, said Hekmat Durrani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Hekmat said insurgents targeted several other locations in Maidan Shahr.
There were no reports of injuries. Taliban earlier warned teachers and students from allowing schools to be used as election polling stations threatening attacks.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission says that after the chaotic start to the country’s first parliamentary elections since 2010 it will allow some of the worst affected polls to remain open until 8 p.m. local time __ four hours beyond the original closing time.
Thousands of outraged voters blocked a road north of the capital Kabul on Saturday after waiting more than five hours for a polling station to open, says Mohammad Azim, governor of Qarabagh district where the demonstration took place.
Election Commission Chairman Abdul Badih Sayat went on national television to plead for patience with a new biometric system and explain that dozens of teachers who had been trained in the system did not show up for work at the polling stations. It wasn’t clear why or whether it was related to a Taliban warning directed specifically at teachers and students telling them to stay away from the polls.
Sayat said for those polling stations which had not opened by 1 p.m., voting would be held on Sunday.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the 21,000 polling stations across the country were affected.
A district police chief says two police were wounded when they tried to defuse an improvised explosive devise found near a polling station in a northwestern neighborhood of the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Khaled Haq Parast says two civilians were also wounded when the explosive devise detonated as voters were going to the polling station Saturday in Afghanistan’s Parliamentary polls.
Elsewhere in election day violence, Taliban fighters ambushed and killed four local police in central Ghor province as they were making their way to a polling center in the capital of Firozkoh, several hours after voting had begun nationwide in parliamentary elections, says Abdul Hai Khateby, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says it has increased its deployment of Afghan National Security Forces to 70,000 from a previous 50,000 military personnel across the country to protect the country’s 21,000 polling stations.
Elections in the two provinces of Kandahar and Ghazni have been delayed as well as in 11 of the country’s nearly 400 districts.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish announced the increased deployment without giving more details.
Within hours of polling several minor incidences of violence had occurred as both the upstart Islamic State group affiliate and the Taliban have vowed to disrupt elections
Provincial officials say two attacks in northern Afghanistan have wounded two women and frightened voters going to mark their ballots in the country’s first parliamentary elections since 2010.
The spokesman for the Farah province police chief, Mohibullah Mohib, says a mortar struck in a residential area of the capital of Afghanistan’s western Farah province. He said no injuries were reported and security was under control. He said polling stations, including in the area of the mortar attack, were busy with Afghans casting their ballots.
In northeastern Kunar province’s Nari district, Taliban fighters fired artillery onto roads leading to polling stations, injuring two women, said deputy provincial police chief Mohammad Zaman Ayar. The women’s condition was not immediately known.
Afghanistan’s deputy chief executive says he’s outraged by the chaotic start to polling in Afghanistan’s Parliamentary elections.
Mohammad Mohaqiq, in an interview with a local TV station, assailed election preparation by the country’s Independent Election Commission.
He says: “The people rushed like a flood to the polling stations, but the election commission employees were not present, and in some cases they were there but there were no electoral materials and in most cases the biometric systems was not working.”
Mohaqiq feared frustrated voters would abandon the polling stations without marking their ballots.
The Independent Election Commission chairman Abdul Badih Sayat also went on local television to say technical glitches had occurred. He did not say polling would be extended but said the commission was considering whether that might be necessary
A Kabul police official says a second small explosion has been reported just hours after parliamentary election polls opened in Afghanistan.
Jan Agha says a “sticky bomb” placed beneath the vehicle of an intelligence official exploded Saturday in the Karte Se neighborhood in the west of the capital.
There were no immediate report of injuries but security officials are on high alert as both the upstart Islamic State affiliate and Taliban have vowed to disrupt polling
A small explosion has frightened voters who had lined up at a polling station in the Qarabagh neighborhood, north of Kabul, to cast their ballot in the first parliamentary elections since 2010.
There were no injuries in the first act of violence to be reported since polls opened at 7 a.m. Saturday.
More than 50,000 Afghan security forces are deployed throughout the country to protect 21,000 polling stations.
The Taliban have warned of violence and told students and teachers to refuse to allow their schools to be used in voting. Education Minister Mohammad Mirwais Balkhy says 5,500 schools throughout the country are being used for elections.
Tens of thousands of Afghan forces have fanned out across the country as voting began in parliamentary elections following a campaign marred by relentless violence.
The Independent Election Commission says 8.8. million Afghans are registered to vote in Saturday’s election. Wasima Badghisy, a commission member, called voters “very, very brave” and says a turnout of 5 million will be a success.
In the run-up to the elections, two candidates were killed while polling in Kandahar was delayed for a week after a rogue guard gunned down the powerful provincial police chief.
Commission deputy spokesman Aziz Ismaili says no results will be released before mid-November and final results will not be out until later in December.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani marked his ballot as polls opened at 7 a.m.