April 22, 2018
ISLAMABAD — A suicide bomber struck a distribution center for Afghan voters’ identification cards Sunday morning in Kabul, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 100 others.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najeeb Danish told VOA that people were waiting in line outside the center to get their Tazkira, or identification card, to be able to vote in the election when the bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body.
Hospital sources have described condition of a least ten wounded people as “highly critical”.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has condemned the “terrorist” attack on the center set up in a Kabul school.
“I stand with those affected by this coward attack. Our resolve for fair and transparent election will continue and terrorists won’t win against the will of the Afghan people,” Abdullah wrote on his official Twitter account.
President Ashraf Ghani launched the voter registration process last week, allowing the Independent Election Commission to prepare voter lists for the October 20 parliamentary and district council elections. This will be the first time in Afghani history that elections will be held on the basis of formal voters lists.
The attack occurred a day after a presidential spokesman in a statement released to media said that Ghani spoke to top army commanders by phone and instructed them to pay “close attention to ensuring security of the voters’ registration centers.”
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass, issued a statement following the attack: “I strongly condemn this morning’s suicide attack . . . in Kabul and offer my condolences to the victims and their families. This senseless violence shows the cowardice and inhumanity of the enemies of democracy and peace in Afghanistan.”
The Taliban insurgency has rejected the elections as staged-managed by the United States to bring to power Afghan rulers of its own choice and has urged the people to boycott the polls.
But Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement said it had no role in Sunday’s attack.
The Islamic State Afghan branch has in recent months carried out repeated deadly attacks on civilians in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.
Meanwhile, Afghan officials have confirmed that bomb went off near the provincial capital of northern Baghlan province, killing at least six people, according to initial reports.
Provincial police spokesman Zabihullah Shujah told VOA the blast in Pul-e-Khumri was caused by a roadside bomb and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“I condemn the heinous terrorist attacks in Kabul and Pul-e-Khumri,” Ghani tweeted, naming the capital of Baghlan and saying he instructed relevant institutions to provide support and care to those affected.
The latest Afghan civilian casualties come as the United Nations in its recent report said that conflict-related violence has claimed lives of about 2,260 civilians in Afghanistan in the first three months of 2018, including more than 700 deaths.