Tags: Afghanistan | elections | Taliban

Taliban Terror Campaign Targets Election Observers, Voters

Image: Taliban Terror Campaign Targets Election Observers, Voters
Afghan police stand in front of the wreckage of an election commission office in Kabul that was attacked by terrorists on March 25.

By    |   Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 11:50 PM

Two international election monitoring organizations have withdrawn from Afghanistan in the wake of Thursday’s Taliban terrorist attack on a Kabul hotel which killed nine people, the London Daily Telegraph reported.

Both the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have reportedly pulled their observers from Afghanistan after the attack, which occurred after four gunmen smuggled miniature pistols past the heavy security cordon at the  Serena Hotel in Kabul – reputed to be the most secure hotel in the Afghan capital.

They waited for the restaurant to fill up with diners celebrating the Persian New Year and then began shooting. 

One of those killed was Luis Maria Duarte, an NDI observer. The dead also included several children between two and five years old.

Another victim was an Afghan journalist with AFP, who was gunned down along with his wife and two children, Reuters reported.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, while the Afghan government hinted that Pakistan, a country with a substantial history of supporting terrorism, was also involved.

Afghanistan’s National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by President Hamid Karzai, issued a statement saying: “Witness testimony and preliminary information analysis shows that this terrorist attack was directly executed or carried out by foreign intelligence services outside the country.”

It went on to say that the nation’s  intelligence agency had evidence a Pakistani diplomat had been spotted exploring the Serena Hotel’s corridors near the time of the attack.
Afghans will go to the polls April 5 to elect a new president to succeed Karzai, who is barred from running for a third term. The election observers are in the country to deter a recurrence of the massive vote fraud that marred the country’s 2009 national elections.

Five years ago, more than 10,000 Afghan observers and 1,200 international ones monitored the voting. The Associated Press reported that this year the number of foreign observers has dropped to approximately 200, while the Afghan number has increased to over 100,000.

The Taliban have ordered voters to stay away from the polls and the campaign trail, warning that they are prepared to use all violence necessary to prevent the election from taking place.

On Tuesday, jihadists killed at least 17 people in three suicide bombings targeting an election commission office, a sporting event, and members of the security forces waiting in line at a bank to receive their paychecks.

The latest attack "shows that Taliban will use any opportunity against observers, against anyone working in the process," said Jandad Spinghar, executive director of the Free & Fair Election Forum, one of the largest Afghan election monitoring groups.

Spinghar said a number of veteran Afghan election observers have resigned from his organization in three provinces fearing they could become  the next terror victims.

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Two international election monitoring organizations have withdrawn from Afghanistan in the wake of Thursday’s Taliban terrorist attack on a Kabul hotel which killed nine people, the London Telegraph reported.
Afghanistan,elections,Taliban
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2014-50-25
Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 11:50 PM
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