Several blasts were reported from different parts of Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least 1 person and wounding 47, as Afghans voted in the long-awaited parliamentary elections.
Blasts were reported from Kabul and the provinces of Kapisa and Logar (east), and Ghazni (south).
The victims were transported to a hospital run by Italian non-profit Emergency in the Afghan capital, the organization’s programme coordinator Dejan Panic told Efe news.
“So far we have received 48 victims, among them 33 were admitted here in the hospital and 14 were treated as outpatients, one was brought dead,” said Panic.
Kabul police spokesperson Basir Mujahid said a “few small explosions, mainly IEDs” had occurred in Kabul city, but he could not confirm the casualties.
The Afghan government deployed 70,000 troops — an increase of 16,000 from the figure announced previously — to boost security during the electoral process, Interior Ministry spokesperson Najib Danish said at a press conference.
He added that 4,900 polling centres had opened in 32 out of the 34 provinces. The voting was to begin at 7 a.m. across the country, but in some polling stations it started at around 9 a.m. and in some even later.
In some of the polling stations biometric devices were malfunctioning, while in others election material, including ballots, did not arrive on time.
Elections were delayed in the Ghazni province owing to ethnic tensions and security concerns, while in Kandahar it was pushed back by a week after a brazen attack by the Taliban on Thursday during a high-level security meeting that killed and injured top officials.
The Election Commission said it will continue till Sunday in centres which were unable to open on Saturday.
Only about 5,000 polling stations of the initially planned 7,000 are operational because of security concerns.
“Holding of this election is the success of the constitution, success of the people and the democracy,” President Ashraf Ghani had said in an address to the nation even as the Taliban warned again on Saturday that they would target all polling booths and warned people against voting.
“Enemy’s polling stations all over the country are under attack by Mujahideens, countrymen must refrain from taking part in this fake process, to save their lives and not to become a tool for the implementation of the evil plans of the enemy,” said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.