After a delay of nearly three years, many tribulations and disagreements, Afghanistan has finally announced the date for the parliamentary election — October 20. But as preparations for the vote are under way, militants have stepped up attacks on voter registration centres across the country, according to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) has set up over 7,000 centres to register about 10 million voters. However, 26% of these centres are not operational, owing to the security situation in those areas. Besides the attacks on these centres, UNAMA has documented 23 other incidents that left 86 people dead and 185 injured. At least 26 civilians have been abducted since the election was announced in April. The deadliest among these attacks was an explosion on April 22 close to a school serving as a registration centre in Kabul, which killed over 60 people and injured 138.

“I am not sure if I want to participate in the election any more,” Gulam Abbasi, 50, told this writer outside the Emergency War and Trauma Hospital in Kabul, following the attack. Six of his family members, all children, were injured in the explosion. He said he was uncertain if the election would make any difference. “Everyone knows that there are the hands of foreigners [in the election]… We don’t know when we could be hit next. We are always scared.”

The UNAMA report observed that nearly 75% of all the attacks since April have taken place at schools or mosques, which are commonly used as venues for voter registration. “Two incidents at schools concerned the abduction of six civilians; one involved setting fire inside a school; one involved an IED detonated in a school; and one IED detonated at a mosque,” the report stated.

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