Afghan Voters Register For Presidential Elections Despite Taliban AttackBy: Val Powell - March 31, 2014
The voting registration process in Afghanistan continues after Taliban fighters attacked the headquarters of the election commission in Kabul on Saturday. Voters lined up outside the registration centers on Sunday as presidential candidates conducted campaign rallies. The presidential elections will be held on April 5.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) headquarters was attacked by Taliban fighters using guns and rocket-propelled grenades. According to witnesses and Afghan officials, five members of the Taliban entered a building near the headquarters shortly before 1 p.m. and unleashed a barrage of gunfire into the IEC compound.
According to Interior Ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi, the militants were not able to enter the area beyond the building. They were quickly surrounded by paramilitary commandos and police officers. Sediqqi told the media that the attackers had started engaging with the police and were “flushed out of the building.”
The gunfight lasted six hours. Afghanistan’s security forces killed the five insurgents involved, and no other casualties were reported.
The attack was the Taliban’s latest move to disrupt the coming presidential and provincial council elections. The assault on the IEC headquarters was their third in Kabul for this week alone. The first attack was on March 20, when four Taliban militants went into the Serena Hotel and shot nine people dead. On Sunday, one Romanian soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device as he and his patrol traveled along the main highway from Kabul.
Instead of scaring the Afghans with violence, the insurgents managed to do the opposite. Abdul Waris Sadat, who queued up for hours to register, said that the Taliban attacks motivated people to register and vote, and that voting is their answer to the Taliban.
“People want change,” said the 21-year-old student, “and we will bring that change through voting.”
Since the voter registration process began, nearly 3.7 million new voters have signed up, according to the IEC. Seddiqi said that thousands of people queue up in registration centers to get voter cards. This shows the Afghans’ strength and resolve to vote. “Nothing will stop us,” said Sediqqi.
For shopkeeper Rassoul Khurrami, Taliban threats are nothing: “Even if I get killed I will go and vote.”
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