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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Afghans angry at government after Kabul suicide attack

Grieving relatives bury loved ones after devastating suicide bombing intended to disrupt election preparations

People attend the funeral of a victim of a suicide bomb attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 April 2018. At least 57 people were killed and 119 injured in the attack the day before. Jawad Jalali / EPA
People attend the funeral of a victim of a suicide bomb attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 April 2018. At least 57 people were killed and 119 injured in the attack the day before. Jawad Jalali / EPA

Hundreds of grieving Afghans buried their loved ones in Kabul on Monday amid growing anger over a suicide attack on a voter registration centre that killed 57 people – including children – and wounded more than 100.

The bomber blew himself up on Sunday morning in a large crowd queueing to collect national ID certificates so they could register to vote in long-delayed legislative elections scheduled for October.

The blast, which was claimed by ISIS, caused carnage in the Shiite-populated neighbourhood.

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Anguish quickly turned to anger on social media as Afghans blamed the Kabul government for failing to protect its people – a common refrain after such attacks.

A Facebook user called Aminullah posted: "This government is intentionally creating chaos to continue their term illegally. The only way forward is to vote and get rid of this corrupt government."

Funerals for some of the victims began hours after the attack on Sunday and more people were buried on Monday.

The attack was the latest in a series of assaults on voter registration centres across the country, fuelling concern about the effect it might have on turnout in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.

Centres in the central province of Ghor and the north-western province of Badghis have been attacked since voter registration began on April 14.

Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres for the elections.

Officials fear a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the polls, which are seen as a test run for next year's presidential vote.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Shafi Jalali said Sunday's attack would not hinder preparations.

"The process has not been interrupted and it will continue," Mr Jalali told AFP.

But IEC member Mohazullah Daulati acknowledged that officials were concerned about security and voter turnout.

"We hope the security forces prevent such terrorist attacks in future so that people can register to vote in a peaceful environment," Daulati told a meeting broadcast by Ariana TV.

Meanwhile in eastern Afghanistan, officials said on Monday that three brothers had been beheaded by ISIS militants in Nangarhar province.