KABUL, April 23, (Agencies): Hundreds of grieving Afghans buried their loved ones in Kabul on Monday amid growing anger over a suicide attack on a voter registration centre that killed 57 people including children and wounded over 100. The bomber blew himself up on Sunday morning in a large crowd queueing to collect national ID certificates so they could register to vote in long-delayed legislative elections scheduled for October.
The blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State group, caused carnage in the street in the heavily Shiite-populated western neighbourhood. Pools of blood and body parts mixed with shattered glass, bloodstained ID documents and passport-sized photos on the ground. More than 40 of the wounded, including children, were taken to a trauma hospital run by Italian NGO Emergency, which said at least 20 people required “major surgeries”.
Most of the victims were civilians. Two police were also killed and five were wounded, Kabul police said in a statement. Anguish quickly turned to anger on social media as Afghans blamed the Kabul government for failing to protect its people — a constant refrain after such attacks. Social networks are considered the safest way for Afghans to express their anger as street protests in the past have been targeted by militants.
“They (the government) arrests them and then releases them to kill innocent people,” Ahmad Ahmadi wrote on Facebook. A Facebook user called Aminullah posted: “This government is intentionally creating chaos to continue their term illegally. The only way forward is to vote and get rid of this corrupt government.” Another wrote: “We don’t know what the solution is; they keep killing people. Are you guys still going to vote? We voted last time to be killed now.”
Funerals for some of the victims began hours after the attack on Sunday and more people were buried on Monday. At one of the city’s largest Shiite cemeteries, hundreds of mourners accompanying half a dozen coffins entered the grounds on Monday morning.
Around 10 freshly dug graves could be seen. The attack was the latest in a series of assaults on voter registration centres across the country, fuelling concern over the impact on turnout in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections. Election centres in the central province of Ghor and the northwestern province of Badghis have been attacked since voter registration began on April 14.
Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres for the parliamentary and district council elections. Officials have been pushing people to register amid fears a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the polls, which are seen as a test run for next year’s presidential vote..
Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman ShafiJalali said Sunday’s attack would not interrupt preparations. Meanwhile, GCC Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayani condemned on Sunday the suicide attack that took place in the Afghan capital earlier in the day, which resulted in killing a number of civilians and wounded many others.
In a statement, Al-Zayani said the attack was a “horrendous terrorist crime” that goes against all humanitarian principles and ethics, stressing importance on exerting all efforts by the international community to support Afghanistan and its efforts in combating terrorism.
Taleban attacks in western Afghanistan killed 14 soldiers and policemen on Monday as Kabul residents prepared to bury their loved ones slain in a horrific bombing by the Islamic State group that targeted a voter registration center the day before, killing 57.
The first of Monday’s near-simultaneous attacks in western Badghis province hit army units in the district of Ab Kamari, killing nine soldiers, said Ghulam Sarwar Haidari, the deputy provincial police chief. Moments later, another large group of insurgents struck police in Qadis district, killing five policemen. Sharafuddin Majidi, spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed the casualty tolls. Taleban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the Badghis attacks in a statement to the media.