Neighbours out to disrupt elections: MPs
KABUL (Pajhwok): Accusing neighbouring countries of having hand in recent high-profile terror attacks in Afghanistan, some Wolesi Jirga members on Wednesday said they were concerned over the deteriorating security environment.
The frustration was echoed a day after the Taliban launched a brazen assault on the Independent Election Commission’s regional office on the edge of Kabul, with a suicide bomber detonating his vehicle outside the office, enabling two other gunmen to storm into the building.
Five people, including a provincial council candidate, two IEC workers and a policeman, were killed in the attack that left dozens of employees trapped inside.
The same day, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the government-owned New Kabul Bank branch in Asadabad, the capital of eastern Kunar province. Two policemen were killed and three others wounded in the attack carried out by three insurgents with suicide vests. The insurgents also died.
That attack coincided with a suicide bombing that ripped through a crowd of people watching a buzkashi competition in Kunduz province, killing five civilians and wounding 20 others.
Suicide attacks took place in Nangarhar, Kandahar and Faryab provinces over the past 10 days. On Thursday night, four gunmen opened fire inside a heavily fortified hotel restaurant in Kabul, killing nine people, including two children and four foreigners. The attackers were killed by police. The dead included an Afghan journalist, his spouse and their two children.
Insurgents also carried out a number of attacks elsewhere across the country, killing at least 10 people, many of them members of security forces, including a woman police official in southern Helmand province.
The lower house discussed the rapidly deteriorating security situation ahead of the April 5 elections, with some lawmakers accusing neighbouring countries of their involvement to derail the vote.
Outspoken female lawmaker Shukria Barakzai told the house some individuals at home and neighbouring countries were involved in the recent uptick in terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
Without naming any country, she said: “Either these countries are afraid of our empowerment and are not willing to see peace here or they want to keep Afghanistan unstable for their own interests.”
Barakzai said some political parties contesting the elections were trying to fuel insecurity because they had little chance of victory, but she did not name any group.
Her colleague from eastern Kunar province, Sakhi Mashwanai, said the insurgents had stepped up their attacks across the country to disrupt the elections, urging the masses to assist security forces in frustrating the enemy’s designs
Nasrullah Neili, who represents central Daikundi province, said the Taliban killed civilians in the name of Islam and lamented jihadi and tribal elders, including himself, were not making efforts as required to strengthen security.
Nazifa Zaki from Kabul said the latest attacks showed the militants could strike at the Parliament and the Presidential Palace if wanted so.
Other house members also expressed similar views and said such incidents could negatively impact the upcoming elections.
First deputy speaker Sadiq Ahmad Usmani, who presided over the session, said the armed opposition had waged a ruthless bloody campaign and as a result innocent civilians were being killed.
“The sworn enemies of Afghanistan yesterday once again showed their hate against the Afghans,” he remarked. With such inhuman acts, he said, the insurgents wanted to prevent the nation from holding fair and free elections. He asked intelligence agencies to expand and streamline their activities in a move to thwart terrorist attempts.
Since campaigning began 51 days ago, insurgents have attacked candidates’ convoys, campaign offices and workers.
After the attack on the IEC office in the Darulaman area, chief electoral officer Ziaul Haq Amerkhel said the attack would not deter staff ahead of next month’s polling.
He said they were conducting the election in the middle of the war and such attacks were expected. He said they were committed to holding the ballot under any circumstances.
The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday said its security plan for the elections went ahead with that of the IEC’s plan. The ministry also said it was fully prepared to provide security for polling stations.
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