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News > Afghanistan

Afghanistan Election-Related Violence Left 85 Dead: UN Report

  • An Afghan election commission worker opens ballot boxes and election materials at a warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan October 7, 2019. Picture taken October 7, 2019.

    An Afghan election commission worker opens ballot boxes and election materials at a warehouse in Kabul, Afghanistan October 7, 2019. Picture taken October 7, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 October 2019

The numbers are in sharp contrast to official figures that recorded just 37 civilians injured and no civilian deaths on the day the war-torn country voted to elect its new president.

Violence linked to Afghanistan's election last month left 85 civilians dead and more than 370 wounded, a United Nations report said Tuesday.

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"Deliberate acts of violence against voters, election workers, campaigners, election rally sites and polling centers are completely unacceptable," Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, said in the report.

More than a third of civilian casualties were children, twenty-eight people were killed and almost 250 injured on election day, with the rest of the casualties caused by violence before or after the vote.

Around 9.6 million citizens were registered to vote in the presidential election, in which the preliminary results are expected to be announced on Saturday. Only around 27 percent of the people turned out to vote, according to the Independent Election Commission.

The report accused the Taliban fighters of deliberate attacks against civilians on election day.

“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,” added Yamamoto. "Widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations may constitute crimes against humanity; the United Nations unequivocally condemns them." 

The Taliban, who consider the election illegitimate and have rejected the elections as a farce orchestrated by the United States. The UN mission in Afghanistan said that Taliban attacks often used methods that did not distinguish between the civilian population and security forces, such as mortars, grenades and improvised explosive devices.


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The biggest number of civilian casualties ahead of the elections were caused by two Taliban attacks: a suicide bombing at an election office in Kabul on July 28 and an attack on a campaign meeting by incumbent president Ashraf Ghani on Sept. 17.

However, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told EFE that most of the civilian casualties were caused by government airstrikes and mortar attacks while justifying Taliban tactics.

“We had issued several pre-election statements to the people not to come out of homes on this day because we had attacks already planned, our targets were military forces,” Mujahid said.

The spokesperson said the rebel group had not directly attacked the civilian population, but admitted that “a few civilians might have been injured in some attacks by our fighters.”

The UN body said that despite the violence, the casualty figures were “significantly lower” that the parliamentary elections on Oct. 20, 21 and 27 in 2018 when 56 civilians deaths and 379 were reported injured.

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