IEC observer beaten, hospitalised
BAMYAN CITY (Pajhwok): An Independent Election Commission (IEC) observer was hospitalised on Monday after being beaten by a local commander’s supporters in central Bamyan province.
Ghulam Ali Ashna, who is responsible for observation at five polling sites in Waris district, said that four gunmen attacked him a day earlier in Choptoman Surkhjoi area.
He told Pajhwok Afghan News the attackers threatened him to abide by the directives of their commander, Sarhang Wafa. However, he said the gunmen did not explain what their commander wanted.
Ashna had been in the district to train 50 local election workers. IEC office head in Bamyan, Aziz Ahmad Rassouli, said they were deeply concerned at the incident, which could disrupt the election process.
There are 188 polling centres, comprising 450 polling stations, in Bamyan. Of them, eight polling sites face medium security threats and 12 low. Rassouli said Ashna was among three election workers beaten by the gunmen.
He said the issue had been raised with local officials, including the police chief, and they had urged them to prevent a reoccurrence of such incidents.
Deputy police chief, Lt. Col. Muhammad Ali, said the incident was being investigated. He assured no one would be allowed to create problems for election observers.
Ismail Zaki, Civil Society and Human Rights Network head in Bamyan, warned: “Elections in the province can plunge into chaos if warlords are not stopped from meddling in the process.”
Illegal armed gunmen are operating in various parts of Waris and are considered a serious threat to the elections.
Having more than a hundred gunmen, Sarhang Wafa has the backing of Mohammad Akbari, a Bamyan representative in the Wolesi Jirga, said Ashna, quoting local residents.
But Akbari denied the allegation and said Juma Wafa alias Sarhang Wafa had been associated with the Akbari wing of Wahdat-i-Islami party in the Waris district 13 years ago.
He said they had no connection with Wafa and called on the authorities concerned to take action against individuals creating problems for the elections.
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