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Two blasts in Afghanistan kill 63, angry crowd says 'govt can't protect us'

The blast occurred at around 10 am in front of a school where a voter registration site was located in Afghanistan Kabul's Qala-e-Nazir area

Agencies  |  Kabul 

Kabul blast
The explosion happened at an ID distribution and voter registration center at about 10 am on Sunday morning in PD6

An Islamic State suicide bomber killed at least 57 people including women and children and wounded 119 outside a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday in the latest attack on election preparations. In another incident, a roadside explosion in the northern province of Baghlan on Sunday killed six people, including three women and two children. The assaults underscore growing concerns about security in the lead-up to legislative elections scheduled for October 20, which are seen as a test-run for next year's presidential poll. "It happened at the entrance gate of the centre. It was a suicide attack," Dawood Amin, Kabul police chief, told AFP. Both the health and interior ministries confirmed the latest toll for the attack, which was claimed by the Islamic State group via its propaganda arm Amaq. "They are civilians, including women and children," said interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish. The centre in a heavily Shiite-populated neighbourhood in the west of the city was also being used by people to register for national identification certificates, which they need to sign up to vote. Sheets of paper and passport-sized photos lay scattered amid shattered glass and pools of blood on the street near badly damaged cars -- grim evidence of the force of the blast that drew condemnation. "This senseless violence shows the cowardice and inhumanity of the enemies of democracy and peace in Afghanistan," US ambassador John Bass wrote on Twitter. NATO also condemned the bombing. The last major attack in Kabul was on March 21 when an IS suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd celebrating the Persian New Year holiday and killed at least 33 people. Ariana TV showed angry crowds shouting "Death to the government!" and "Death to the Taliban!" A wounded man in a hospital bed wept as he told the network: "I don't know where my daughters are. God damn the attackers!" A witness to the attack named Akbar told Tolo TV: "Now we know the government cannot provide us security: we have to get armed and protect ourselves." President Ashraf Ghani condemned both attacks as "heinous". Afghanistan began registering voters on April 14 for the long-delayed legislative elections. Officials have acknowledged that security is a major concern because the Taliban and other militant groups control or contest large swathes of the country. Afghan police and troops have been tasked with protecting polling centres, even as they struggle to get the upper hand against insurgents on the battlefield. Here are the top 10 developments on Kabul blast: 1. 57 killed, 119 wounded in Kabul attack: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd outside a voter registration centre in Afghanistan capital Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 57 people and wounding at least 119 in the latest attack on election preparations. The blast occurred at around 10 am in front of a school where a voter registration site was located in Kabul's Qala-e-Nazir area. Afghanistan's Ministry of public health spokesman Wahid Majroh has confirmed the death toll and the number of wounded, according to media reports. 2. Six killed in another Afghanistan explosion: In a second bombing in Afghanistan on Sunday, six persons were killed and five injured as a bomb went off close to a voter registration centre in Baghlan.

All victims were members of the same family, according to media reports.

The family was driving past the centre in Pul-e-Khumri city when the IED detonated shortly after 12 noon, health officials said, reported IANS.

Kabul suicide bombing The assaults underscore growing concerns about security in the lead-up to legislative elections scheduled for October 20
3. ‘I don’t know where my daughters are’: A wounded man in a hospital bed wept as he told Ariana TV: "I don't know where my daughters are. God damn the attackers!" A witness to the attack named Akbar told Tolo TV: "Now we know the government cannot provide us security: we have to get armed and protect ourselves." Angry crowds shouted "Death to the government!" and "Death to the Taliban!", according to news agency PTI. 4. Afghanistan elections on October 20: The assaults underscore growing concerns about security in the lead-up to legislative elections scheduled for October 20, which are seen as a test-run for next year's presidential poll. Afghanistan began registering voters on April 14 for the long-delayed legislative elections. Officials have been pushing people to register amid fears a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the polls. 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. 5. India condemns attacks: Condemning Sunday morning's "cowardly" and "barbaric" explosions in Kabul and Pul-e-Khumri city, India have called them an attack on the democratic rights of Afghans.

"This is not only an attack on innocent civilians but also an attack on the democratic rights of the Afghan people. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the victims, and we wish quick and complete recovery to the injured.

India stands ready to extend all possible assistance, including for treatment of those injured," the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, said, in a statement.

"What makes this attack particularly reprehensible is the fact that the terrorists and their backers chose to attack a voters' registration centre for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections. The attack has resulted in the death of Afghans who firmly support and believe in the democratic process to empower themselves and make their voice heard," the statement added.

6. On Tuesday, gunmen attacked a voter registration centre in the central province of Ghor, kidnapping three election workers and two policemen. Taliban militants released the five on Thursday. 7. Militants on Friday launched rockets at a voter registration centre in the northwestern province of Badghis. 8. Previous attack on Kabul: The last major attack in Kabul was on March 21 when an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd celebrating the Persian New Year holiday. At least 33 people were killed and dozens more wounded in that blast, which also happened in a Shiite area of the city. Since then a tense calm has permeated the Afghan capital as people brace for the Taliban's launch of its customary spring offensive. 9. More attacks to follow? Some Western and Afghan officials expect 2018 to be a particularly bloody year. General John Nicholson, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, told Tolo TV last month that he expected the Taliban to carry out more suicide attacks this fighting season. 10. Afghanistan CEO condemns attack: "I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on voters' registration center in Kabul. I stand with those affected by this coward attack. Our resolve for fair and transparent elections will continue and terrorists won't win against the will of the Afghan people," Afghanistan's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah said, in a tweet.

First Published: Sun, April 22 2018. 21:48 IST
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