Many casualties during Afghan election campaign: UN

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 15 (APP): Eighty five civilians were killed and an another 373 wounded during the recent presidential electoral process in Afghanistan, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported on Tuesday.

In a special report, UNAMA blames more than 80 percent of the casualties on the Taliban’s deliberate campaign of violence and intimidation to disrupt the September 28 election.

On polling day alone, it said, 28 civilians were killed and 249 injured. Children accounted for more than one-third of the victims.

Despite the high toll, Afghan security forces said election day was a success because the Taliban failed to pull off any large-scale attacks that stole the headlines.

The statistics show a significant decrease from last year’s parliamentary vote, which saw 226 people killed and 781 injured as the insurgents tried to sabotage the elections.

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The report not only documents the casualties caused by the Taliban’s violent offensive to disrupt the election, but also highlights a pattern of abductions, threats, intimidation and harassment carried out by the insurgents against civilians leading up to and during the elections.

“These attacks, along with public statements made by the Taliban, revealed a deliberate campaign intended to undermine the electoral process and deprive Afghan citizens of their right to participate in this important political process, freely and without fear,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said. “Many Afghan people, however, defied the threats and cast their votes.”

“Deliberate acts of violence against voters, election workers, campaigners, election rally sites and polling centres are completely unacceptable,” Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA, said. “Widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations may constitute crimes against humanity; the United Nations unequivocally condemns them.”

According to international human rights law, everyone has the right to take part in public affairs, to vote and to be elected to government without discrimination and without unreasonable restrictions, it was pointed out. All citizens – whether voters, candidates or election-related staff – have the right to be free from fear and intimidation at all stages of an election process.

Final election turnout figures have yet to be released but it appears participation in this year’s first round presidential vote is at record low levels.

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