Taliban Escalate Attacks on Kabul Two Days Before Presidential Election


Eight people died, including two Afghan staff members of the United Nations and at least one foreign soldier, while more than 50 other people were wounded, in the latest wave of Taliban violence around Kabul.  The insurgents, who are vowing to disrupt Thursday's national election, have escalated strikes on the capital and other parts of the country.

The Taliban attacked in the capital area again Tuesday, attempting to make good on a vow to disrupt this week's presidential election.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a supply convoy of foreign forces on a busy highway on the eastern outskirts of Kabul.

The attack came just hours after a pair of rockets fell harmlessly between the Presidential Palace and the Defense Ministry - the latest targeting of the most secure area of the Afghan capital.

The latest Taliban suicide bombing took a heavy toll on Afghan civilians, including children.  

Shopkeeper Jawed Ahmad was nearby. He says the force of the blast collapsed his shop while he was standing inside but he managed to walk away. He says he saw many bodies around his damaged shop.

In Uruzgan province, officials say, a suicide bomber attacked a polling station, killing four Afghan soldiers and two civilians. And the U.S. military command here says two American soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck a bomb in the eastern part of the country.

A suicide car bomb at the gates of NATO's headquarters here Saturday killed seven people and injured nearly 100.

The top U.N. official based in the country, Kai Eide, says security is his main concern for election day. He says a lack of security will increase the chances of voting irregularities.

"There will be irregularities but I do believe that they will not be at the level that will put in doubt the credibility of the elections themselves," he said.

The chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission is appealing to Afghanistan's 17 million eligible voters to defy the Taliban. He says those who go to the polls will be "voting against violence."

A similar sentiment is being expressed by U.S. Senator John McCain on a visit here with three of his colleagues.

The former U.S. Republican Party presidential candidate, condemns the Taliban intimidation of voters.

"There's very little doubt that the Taliban are doing everything in their power to try to prevent people from voting - threats of cutting someone's hand if they exercise their democratic right," he said.

In the main contest, the incumbent, Mr. Hamid Karzai, is hoping to fend off several dozen challengers to capture a second five-year term as President.

Afghanistan's government has declared Thursday a "Day of Peace" for the balloting.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force force has suspended combat operations against the Taliban during the election week.

Another of the visiting U.S. senators, former Democratic Party vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, says the politicians received a sobering assessment during their tour here from top commanders concerning the fight against the Taliban.

"This is a difficult and challenging moment. And in some senses looking at the battlefield nationally, the momentum is slightly in the direction of the Taliban. That's what we've heard," he said.

For the election, some 300,000 Afghan and international troops and police officers, are tasked with protecting 29,000 polling stations, with what the government describes as a four-tier ring of security.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs