Afghanistan election: Voters defy violence to cast ballots

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Voters in Afghanistan have defied deadly attacks to cast ballots in large numbers in the nation’s long-awaited parliamentary elections.

Several explosions targeted polling stations, with dozens of people killed or injured in scores of incidents across the country.

Voting will be extended amid delays, with some constituencies remaining open on Sunday.

A new biometric verification system has caused technical problems.

Violence had also marred election campaigning, with 10 candidates killed in the run-up to the polls. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group had vowed to disrupt them.

More than 2,500 candidates, including many women, are vying for 250 seats in the legislative elections, which are being held more than three years late.

What are the levels of violence?

Polling day has seen dozens of incidents of violence, with scores of deaths and injuries reported:

  • At least 15 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Kabul
  • At least three people were killed and more than 30 others wounded in other incidents in Kabul, the AFP news agency reports
  • According to the Associated Press, two police officers were wounded trying to defuse an improvised explosive device near a polling station in the north-west of the capital
  • Three people were killed and more than 50 injured in the northern city of Kunduz, while another two people died in explosions in Nangarhar AFP reports
  • Police officers were also ambushed in central Ghor province. At least four were killed in an explosion, although other reports put the death toll at 11

The defence ministry has deployed 70,000 members of the security forces to try to ensure the elections pass off peacefully.

But nearly a third of all polling stations were closed because of security concerns.

Security was not the only issue threatening the vote. Past elections have been marred by corruption and fraud, with cases of ballot box stuffing, multiple voting and voter intimidation all documented.

 

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