KABUL - At least 13 people were killed and 21 others wounded in an attack on an election rally in northeastern Afghanistan Saturday afternoon.
Officials in Takhar province said most of the victims were civilians, except two policemen and one person from the Afghan intelligence agency NDS.
Khalil Aseer, a spokesman for Takhar provincial police, said explosives attached to a motorcycle detonated while crowds gathered for the campaign of Nazefa Yosufi, a female candidate for upcoming parliamentary elections. The candidate was not hurt.
More than 400 women are running in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for theOctober 20. More than 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats. Sixty-eight parliamentary seats are reserved for women.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Afghan Taliban has called these elections “fake and a conspiracy to deceive the people and achieve the malicious interests of foreigners” and have asked their followers to disrupt the process.
“Those people who are trying to help in holding this process successfully by providing security should be targeted and no stone should be left unturned for the prevention and failure of this malicious American conspiracy,” the Taliban said in a statement to its militants.
This is the third attack on election-related activities in Afghanistan this month. On Tuesday, an attack on a campaign office in Helmand province killed eight people. Before that, an attack on an election rally in Nangarhar killed 14 people.
Security is one of the biggest concerns, not just in the run up to the elections but on the day itself. The Afghan Ministry of Interior says more than 50,000 security personnel will be deployed to the 5,100 polling stations across the country on election day and more forces would be on standby if needed.
In at least 19 districts, polling stations were facing increased security threats, according to the ministry.