Last updated on October 3rd, 2019
Elections in Afghanistan come along with a major risk of the Taliban attacks. Fearing such threats, President Ashraf Ghani has mostly opted the option of “virtual rallies” to campaign for re-election this year.
On Tuesday, the President took all the risk, as he stepped out of his armored car for a 35-mile long rally. In affect to the past threats against elections, the Taliban carried out two attacks, killing at least 48 people and wounding dozens.
In the first attack, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle targeted the Ghani’s campaign rally, and ushered into the extensively guarded compound in the central Parwan Province, where the President was addressing his supporters. The attack killed 26 people and wounded 42, while the President Ashraf Ghani was reported unhurt.
Over an hour later, another attack took place 35 miles south, in the capital Kabul, where a second suicide bomber targeted an area near the US Embassy and the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing 22 people and wounded 38.
Earlier this month, the group had also carried out a suicide attack on a wedding and killed 16 civilians in Kabul, to show that “we are not weak” and that they enter the peace talks “from a strong position”.
The Taliban claimed the attacks on Tuesday, and warned of more violence ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. The insurgents have long been against the elections and have warned Afghanis to keep away from the upcoming election rallies. Fearing these threats, President Ghani has mostly opted virtual ways to reach the voters outside Kabul, and has campaigned for re-elections through Skype.
Claiming responsibility for the two blasts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the attack near Ghani’s rally was aimed at deliberating ruining the elections schedule for September 28. “We already warned people not to attend election rallies, if they suffer any losses that is their own responsibility,” he said.
Tuesday explosions became the deadliest attack since the US President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks with the Taliban on September 8, over an agreement that could have ended the US troops presence in its longest war. Trump’s declaration impelled the insurgents last week to declare that the only other option was more fighting.
President Ashraf Ghani, who was addressing the people during the blast, denounced the attack, saying that it proved the group had no real intentions of reconciling. “As the Taliban continue their crimes, they once again prove that they are not interested in peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Ghani said.
The United Nation’s mission Afghanistan accused the insurgent group of showing “despicable disregard for civilian life and fundamental human right to participate in democratic process”.
The US was planning to withdraw its troop presence from Afghanistan on a condition of Taliban ending terror attacks in the country as well as at the global level. While the insurgents had continued their attacks during the peace talks, they have intensified after it collapsed.