UPDATE 2 – Afghans go to polls amid security threats

UPDATES WITH VOTING ENDS, DEATH TOLL, MORE DETAILS

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Voting for the long-due Afghan parliamentary elections concluded in most of the polling stations, amid spate of deadly attacks that claimed more than 30 lives, officials said on Saturday.

Apart from some polling stations where polling continued till 8.00 p.m. local time (1530 GMT) due to the late start, the rest closed at 4.00 p.m. local time (1130 GMT).

According to the country’s Ministry of Interior, more than 30 people were killed and 83 others wounded in separate incidents of violence across the country.

Nusrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, told Anadolu Agency 15 people were killed in a suicide attack in the capital Kabul.

Wais Ahmad Barmak, minister of interior, told local Tolo News that close to 200 attacks took place on the election day.

Earlier, amid widespread reports of delays in polling, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Afghanistan announced a reserve day, Sunday, for voters in the ongoing and long-due polls for the Wolesi Jirga (lower house).

Abdul Badi Sayyad, IEC chief, appeared on the national RTA television minutes after widespread reports of delay in polling and technical glitches emerged. Sayad announced the IEC is committed to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to vote.

Flanked by the First Lady Rula Ghani, Afghan president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani cast his vote early in the day.

Speaking afterwards, he said efforts are underway to ensure polls do take place soon in the two provinces, Ghazni and Kandahar where insecurities have forced postponement.

According to the country’s Independent Election Commission, at least 8.8 million people have obtained voter cards to cast votes for 2,500 candidates who are running for the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of the parliament).

Preliminary results are expected 20 days after the election, on Nov. 10, while final results are due by Dec. 20.

More than 70,000 security and defense forces were assigned to ensure security of the parliamentary elections.

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