Taliban Threatens Afghan Voters
VOA News / March 10, 2014
ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency has warned Afghans against participating in the April 5 presidential election and ordered its fighters to use “all force” possible to disrupt the election. The Islamist group's statement marks its first formal threat of violence to prevent the election process.
The upcoming presidential election is considered key to Afghanistan's stability after the NATO-led coalition ends its combat mission in December. The poll would mark the country's first democratic transfer of power.
But security remains the biggest challenge facing the democratic process, and the Taliban threat is likely to fuel those fears.
A Taliban statement Monday condemned the election as an American conspiracy, urging Afghans to “completely reject” it and not put themselves in danger by going to the polls. It said Taliban fighters have been ordered to disrupt the “sham elections by full force and attack election workers, activists, volunteers and those providing security”.
The head of the Free and Fair Elections Foundation of Afghanistan, Jandad Spinghar, said such threats undermine the election process and scare away voters.
“It is now up to the Afghan government, especially security institutions, to respond to such [a] statement not just by a statement, but by some certain efforts and measures, which make sure that the Taliban cannot disturb the election. Otherwise, of course it will [have an] effect on people, especially psychologically on peoples’ thoughts about their participation [in the election],” he said.
Dozens of people were killed during the fraud-riddled 2009 election that returned incumbent President Hamid Karzai to power. Election laws bar him from running for a third consecutive term.
Militant attacks in the past month have killed two campaign workers, and presidential front-runner candidate Abdullah Abdullah has escaped an assassination attempt. The Taliban claim responsibility for the violence.
Meanwhile, leading candidates and some independent observers allege the Karzai administration is interfering in the election process.
Spinghar said observers of his organization have come across official irregularities. “Governmental authorities, opposite with that regulation we have for the campaign, they participated in some campaign events or they expressed their support through media for some candidates, which are not according to the regulation. And in many places the governmental tools or vehicles are used for the benefit of some specific candidates,” he said.
President Karzai has not endorsed any candidate and has vowed to strictly remain neutral in the election.
Officials have also rejected allegations that recent meetings in the presidential palace were meant to gather support for Karzai’s favored successor.
Last week’s announcement by the incumbent president’s older brother, Qayum Karzai, that he was pulling out of the race in favor of former foreign minister Zalmay Rassoul, has left little doubt among Afghan watchers about President Karzai’s favorite candidate.
Karzai is believed to be seeking an influential background advisory role in the future Afghan government and analysts say supporting Mr. Rassoul could help.
Some critics also suggest the controversy stemming from President Karzai’s refusal to sign the bilateral security agreement with the United States has effectively diverted international attention from the crucial election, allowing the Afghan leader to manipulate the process in his favor.
Explosion targets gathering near Dr. Abdullah’s election office in Herat
Khaama Press / March 10, 2014
At least two security guards of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign office were killed and four election campaign workers were injured following an explosion in western Herat province of Afghanistan on Monday.
Dr. Abdullah’s campaign office in western Herat province of Afghanistan said the incident took place after a motorcycle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) went off near the campaign office where a gathering was organized.
Provincial police chief, Gen. Samiullah Qatra, confirming the report, said the incident took place on Monday in Robat Sangi district.
Gen. Qatra further added at least four policemen along with a number of civilians were injured following the explosion.
In the meantime, officials in provincial hospital said the dead bodies of two people who were killed in the blast were taken to hospital along with eight other individuals who were injured.
No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
This comes as the Taliban group in Afghanistan issued a statement and warned to disrupt the upcoming presidential elections.
Taliban in its statement urged Afghans not to take part in upcoming presidential elections and prevent participating in any election gathering or getting close to election campaign offices or sites.
Taliban vowed to use all force to target the election sites and election workers across the country.
Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai pledges to empower Afghan women
Khaama Press / March 10, 2014
Presidential candidate Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai vowed to pay more attention for bringing positive changes in the lives of the Afghan women after he was elected as the next president of Afghanistan.
While speaking during a gathering attended by hundreds of women to mark the international women’s day, Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai said the women will be given more opportunities in economic, education and health sectors.
Dr. Ahmadzai further added that necessary steps will be taken to eliminate the challenges and difficulties Afghan women face in these sectors.
He urged all the Afghan women to participate in the upcoming presidential election which is due to be organized earlier next month.
Rula Ghani, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai’s wife was also among the hundreds of women who attended the gathering to mark the international women’s day.
She emphasized for major contribution of women in the reconstruction process of Afghanistan and said women have the ability to burden major responsibilities.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai vowed to take practical steps regarding the proper implementation of decree on women’s rights and insisted for positive discrimination regarding further participation of women in governmental organizations.
Two killed in western Afghan bomb attack
HERAT, Afghanistan, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Two police were killed while seven civilians were wounded Monday in a bomb attack in western Afghanistan's province of Herat, police said.
"The militants detonated an explosive-packed motorcycle in Kushk district at around midday, killing two policemen and injuring seven civilians, including a child," the provincial police chief Samiullah Qatra told Xinhua.
The injured were shifted to a hospital in the provincial capital Herat city, 640 km west of the Afghan capital of Kabul, the official said, blaming the Taliban insurgent group for the attack.
The Taliban has intensified subversive activities as the country is preparing for third presidential and provincial council general election, slated for April 5.
Up to 10 contenders, including several former ministers and other politicians registered to compete for the country's top slot.
5 Taliban militants killed, 6 others injured in Afghan police operations
Khaama Press / March 10, 2014
At least 5 Taliban militants were killed and 6 others were injured following military operations by Afghan national security forces.
The operations were conducted by Afghan national police in coordination with the Afghan national army and Afghan intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) operatives during the past 24 hours.
Interior ministry of Afghanistan confirmed 5 militants were killed, 6 militants were injured and four others were detained during the operations conducted in Herat, Badghis and Helmand provinces of Afghanistan.
Afghan security forces discovered and seized weapons, ammunition and explosives during the military operations, interior ministry said in a statement.
The statement further added that Afghan national police forces discovered and seized 12 improvised explosive devices (IED) during operations in Faryab, Kandahar, Khost and Paktiya provinces.
The improvised explosive devices were recently planted by Taliban militants to carry out terrorist attacks.
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