x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

Afghanistan mosque bombing kills 12 to cap bloody week

The bomb was placed in a tent being used to register voters

An Afghan wounded man lays on a trolley as others rush him to a hospital following blast at a voter registration centre in Khost Province on May 6, 2018. Farid Zahir / AFP
An Afghan wounded man lays on a trolley as others rush him to a hospital following blast at a voter registration centre in Khost Province on May 6, 2018. Farid Zahir / AFP

A bomb blast inside a mosque in eastern Afghanistan that was being used as a voter registration centre killed at least 12 people and wounded 33, officials said.

Habib Shah Ansari, the provincial head of public health, confirmed the toll from the attack, which took place in the city of Khost, the capital of the province of the same name.

The bomb had been placed in a tent being used to register voters on the grounds of a mosque, Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hanan Zadran told AFP.

"A crowd of people who had come out of the mosque had gathered to register" when the blast took place, he added.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and a local ISIS affiliate reject democratic elections and have targeted them in the past. ISIS is not known to have a presence in Khost, but has expanded its footprint into other areas in recent years.

Last month, an ISIS suicide bomber attacked a voter registration centre in Kabul, killing 60 people and wounding at least 130 others.

Afghanistan plans to hold elections in October, the first since 2014.

__________

Read more:

10 of my colleagues were killed today: Afghanistan reporter recounts bombing in Kabul

Afghanistan, through the lens of Shah Marai

__________

The IEC, which is overseeing preparations for the vote, hopes to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres.

But if the current trend were to continue, fewer than three million people would be registered by the mid-June deadline.

Authorities have deployed planes to drop leaflets in a number of provinces raising awareness about the elections, which are seen as a test run for next year's presidential poll.

A radio and television campaign is also under way and civil servants have been granted a day off to sign up.

The IEC has placed many of the voter registration centres inside schools and mosques, triggering concerns that students and worshippers could be at risk.

The Taliban and ISIS have launched a relentless wave of attacks since the start of the year, killing scores of civilians in the capital, Kabul, and elsewhere. Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the groups since the US and NATO concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014, switching to a counterterrorism and support role.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a vehicle carrying shopkeepers on their way to a market struck a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province, killing seven of them. Police spokesman Karim Yuresh said another civilian was wounded in Sunday's attack, in an area where both the Taliban and ISIS are active.

In the eastern Paktia province, a car bomb killed two people and wounded another three. Abdullah Hsart, the provincial governor's spokesman, said the attack late Saturday targeted Hazart Mohammad Rodwal, a district chief, who was among the wounded. The Taliban claimed the attack.