News

Taliban Escalate Attacks on Kabul Two Days Before Presidential Election

Multimedia

Audio
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.
Comments
     
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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs