https://afghanistan.asia-news.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_st/features/2019/10/15/feature-03
| Security

UN blames Taliban for 85 civilian deaths during election campaign

AFP

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A police officer stands guard in Herat city, Herat Province, on September 23. [Omar]

KABUL -- Hundreds of people were killed or wounded in violence related to the recent presidential election season as the Taliban sought to undermine the democratic process, a United Nations (UN) agency said Tuesday (October 15).

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that 85 people were killed and another 373 wounded in election violence during the period from June 8 to September 30.

On polling day alone, 28 civilians were killed and 249 injured. Children accounted for more than one-third of the victims.

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A voter inks his finger at Habiba High School, a polling centre in Kabul, on election day, September 28. [Sulaiman]

Despite the high toll, Afghan security forces said election day was a success because the Taliban failed to pull off any large-scale attacks aimed at stealing the headlines.

The majority of Taliban attacks involved the use of rockets, grenades and mortars as well as homemade bombs planted near polling centres, including schools, the report found.

On July 28, the same day the election campaign started, militants targeted the office of President Ashraf Ghani's running mate, Amrullah Saleh, in Kabul, killing 21 people and wounding another 50.

A 'deliberate campaign' of terrorism

"These attacks, along with public statements made by the Taliban, revealed a deliberate campaign intended to undermine the electoral process and deprive Afghan citizens of their right to participate in this important political process, freely and without fear," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement.

The casualty figures are a substantial improvement compared to the run-up to parliamentary elections held a year ago, when UNAMA tallied 226 deaths and 781 injuries.

Final election turnout figures have yet to be released.

Multiple safeguards including biometric verification will make this year's vote the cleanest yet, insists the country's Independent Election Commission.

Preliminary results are due Saturday (October 19), though officials have suggested this date will be pushed back a few days.

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