Explosions reported from polling stations in Kabul hours after the voting procedure for Afghanistan parliament elections started. There is no further detail at the moment, however TOLONews agency reports high turnout from early morning hours.
TOLOnews’ reporter Nematullah Ahmadi reports from northern Badakhshan province that Independent Election Commission (IEC) staff have not received enough training to use biometric devices properly – which has caused major problems for voters. Despite this he says turnout is huge in Badakhshan.
The active participation of women is reported from different provinces. Some of them made it clear to the reporters they will vote for women-candidates, representing their interests.
“The recent violence in Afghanistan, notably yesterday’s attack in Kandahar and recent assaults on civilians and candidates for the parliamentary elections during political rallies, aims at dissuading voters to exercise their democratic right. But nobody can deprive the Afghan people of the right to decide their own future,” said the statement of the European External Action Service (EEAS) ahead of the elections.
Two journalists were among 20 people killed in Kabul in twin bomb attacks on a wrestling club on September 5, with the second blast targeting media and emergency services at the scene of the initial explosion. The first attack took place around 6 p.m. local time when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest in the Maiwand Wrestling Club, according to deputy spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, Nasrat Rahimi.
“The EU stands in solidarity with Afghan people. We pay tribute to those who provided first assistance to the victims, as well as the media community, essential for the functioning of an open and tolerant society and democracy. The European Union’s commitment to support the people and authorities of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability remains as strong as ever” – says the text the European Action Service statement.
James Mattis, the US Defense Secretary, arrived in Kabul for an unannounced visit on September 7 US media reported.
Mattis and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were meeting with Army Gen. Scott Miller, the new commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, NBC News reported.
They intend to discuss situation with peace talks with the Taliban, despite a deteriorating security climate in the country.
Mattis is scheduled to conduct a town hall meeting with troops, attend a weekly memorial service and meet with senior Afghan leaders, officials said as quoted by NBC News.
Two suicide blast at rush hour in Kabul claimed lives of more than 20 people, and left many injured. In a first explosion, a suicide bomber detonated himself close to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main Afghan intelligence agency, TOLOnews reported quoting official sources.
In another explosion that followed 20 minutes later, a second suicide bomber targeted emergency medical workers and journalists who had arrived at the scene.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghan medid said ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd of press, rushing to the place of the first attack.
AFP chief photographer Shah Marai (pictured) three other journalists were among 21 killed in two suicide blasts in Kabul.
‘Today is the first day of the Nowruz celebrations – New Year in Afghanistan and elsewhere. It should be a day of joy, celebrating with friends and family the arrival of spring. A terrorist attack in Kabul this morning has shattered this moment of celebration for many, claiming the lives of at least 29 people and leaving many others wounded. The European Union expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the victims and wishes a swift recovery to those who were injured.
‘As the European Union, we will keep working with the Afghan authorities towards reaching peace. The offer of peace made by the Afghan Government at the recent Kabul Process meeting, with the unanimous support of the international community present, should be seized by all so that violence and terror can stop once and for all, allowing for a truly Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive dialogue.
‘We will once again reiterate this message at next week’s Tashkent Conference on Afghanistan, at which the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini will represent the European Union. Now is the moment to start a real dialogue for peace, and the European Union will, in full solidarity with the Afghan government and the Afghan people, support this process. The Afghan people deserve and need a better present and future.
For the third time in under a week, civilians in Afghanistan have been the target of terrible terrorist attacks.
“My thoughts and the thoughts of citizens of the whole European Union are with the Afghan people after today’s attack in Kabul. We mourn those whose lives were lost, send our condolences to the families and friends affected, and wish a quick recovery to the injured” – EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
“These acts are against the people of Afghanistan, against reconciliation, against peace. For too long, the aspiration of many to live in peace has been hijacked by the struggle for power of a few. As the European Union, we have always worked and will keep working with the people of Afghanistan, with its government, with the many who seek peace.”
The Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish said at press conference early investigations show six insurgents entered the building from the northern side and stormed the kitchen of the Intercontinental Hotel. The last two attackers were killed by special forces on the 6th floor of the hotel.
The Taliban assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul killed at least nine people, including a foreigner, and pinned security forces down for more than 13 hours before the last attacker was killed on January 21, with the casualty toll expected to rise.
The heavily-guarded luxury hotel is popular among foreigners and Afghan officials. However the Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the six killed included a foreigner and a telecommunications official from the western Farah province who was attending a conference.
Six other people, including three security forces, were reported wounded and more than 150 people, including 41 foreigners, were rescued from the hotel, Najab Danish reported.