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UN expresses concern as violence spikes ahead of vote

AT-KABUL: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has voiced concern over the level of violence around the campaigning period for the parliamentary elections, following Tuesday’s attack targeted election campaign rally in eastern Nangarhar province, leaving 14 dead and over 50 others wounded.

In a report, UNAMA urged all actors to halt all violence and intimidation against candidates and voters.

“I am outraged by attacks deliberately targeting civilians seeking to exercise their basic right to participate in elections,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

UNAMA has registered several attacks since campaigning formally began on 28 September, including the killing of a candidate and three security guards, as well as the shooting of another candidate’s agent and his son.

“This violence, including today’s (Tuesday’s) reprehensible attack in Nangarhar, is an assault on the constitutional rights of the people of Afghanistan,” said the UN’s Mr Yamamoto.

“Most of the people killed or wounded are elders who had gathered for the campaign rally,” said Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor. He said some of the wounded were in critical condition, indicating the death toll could rise.

Afghan civilians have borne the brunt of election-related violence in 2018, documented in an earlier UNAMA report that identified a disturbing pattern of attacks at election-related facilities following the commencement of the voter registration process in Spring.

The greatest loss of civilian life in a single incident took place on 22 April when a suicide attacker targeted a crowd gathered outside a national identity card distribution center in Kabul, resulting in 198 civilian casualties.

The UNAMA mission in Afghanistan extended deep condolences to families who lost loved ones in Nangarhar attack and other acts of election-related violence and wishes a full and speedy recovery to those injured.

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