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09 Oct 2018 | 09:27 AM UTC

Afghanistan: Suicide bombing attack kills eight in Lashkar Gah October 9 /update 3

Suicide bombing attack kills eight people at election rally in Lashkar Gah (Helmand province) October 9, no immediate claim of responsibility; similar attacks possible ahead of October 20 vote

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AFG

Event

A suicide bomber detonated his explosive charge at an election rally in Lashkar Gah (Helmand province) on Tuesday, October 9, killing at least eight people and wounding 11 others. Provincial officials reported that a candidate in the upcoming October 20 parliamentary elections was killed in the blast. Similar attacks targeting election-related events are to be expected in Afghanistan over the coming days ahead of the October 20 parliamentary elections. A heightened security presence is to be anticipated near election rallies, other large public gatherings, and polling sites.

Context

The parliamentary elections were initially scheduled to be held over three years ago but have been repeatedly delayed due to ongoing security concerns.

The Taliban and Islamic State (IS) have vowed to disrupt the electoral process by carrying out attacks. On October 8, the Taliban released a statement contesting the legitimacy of the upcoming elections and denouncing the continued presence of "foreign occupiers." They called on their supporters to boycott the elections and to undermine the electoral process by perpetrating attacks against security infrastructure in the lead up to the elections. On the previous day, the Taliban carried out an attack against the chairman of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul.

So far, at least six candidates have been killed by these groups and further such attacks are expected ahead of the vote. Some 54,000 security personnel will be responsible for securing 5000 polling stations. Furthermore, demonstrations by the Jamiat-e-Islami party are expected to take place to protest the Independent Election Commission (IEC) should the IEC fail to implement a biometric system in time for the vote, which is unlikely to happen on a nationwide scale. Traffic disruptions are to be anticipated around all election-related events, protests, and polling stations. There is still potential for these elections to be postponed.

Advice

Individuals in Helmand province are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid election-related rallies and polling places, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.

In general, the security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.

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