Afghan voting scheduled for April 5 is coming with a heavy price, as Taliban insurgents who have sworn to thwart the upcoming elections waged the latest in a flurry of attacks against election officials and others Saturday, storming the Independent Election Commission compound on the outskirts of Kabul.
No commission members or staff were badly injured or killed in this attack, however, which began when five Taliban insurgents disguised as women in head-to-toe burqas slipped into a building overlooking the tightly secured compound and opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.
On Tuesday of this week, militants attempting to stop the Afghan voting killed five IEC workers in an attack on the commission’s headquarters.
Saturday’s attack, though terrifying, ended in a victory for Afghan security forces, who killed all five of the Taliban militants.
Taliban Pledges To Disrupt Afghan Voting
Earlier in March, the Taliban issued a call for all of its members to do whatever it took to stop the voting process, calling the Afghan voting part of a U.S.-backed conspiracy.
“We have given orders to all our mujahideen to use all force at their disposal to disrupt these upcoming elections to target all workers, activists, callers, security apparatus and offices,” said an e-mailed Taliban proclamation. “It is the religious obligation of every Afghan to fulfill their duty by foiling the latest plot of the invaders that is guised in the garb of elections.”
The Taliban campaign against voting took the life of a child on Friday, as militants besieged a guest house inhabited by members of a U.S.-supported foreign aid organization.
The IEC headquarters is next door to the United Nations Office Complex in Afghanistan, known as UNOCA, which also came under fire during Saturday’s siege. But no U.N. workers were injured.
On March 20, Taliban insurgents dedicated to scaring Afghans away from voting booths snuck into a luxury hotel in Kabul with guns and ammunition hidden in their footwear and killed nine people including two children.
Afghan People Committed To Going Ahead With Voting Plan
But as dedicated as the Taliban have been to disrupting the elections, many Afghan people are just as dedicated to going ahead with the voting.
“No one can stop us from casting our vote on election day. We will participate in the election,” said 23-year-old Kabul resident Mohammed Fared.
One election worker in the IEC compound, who asked for his name to be withheld, also said the Afghan people are committed to voting even in the face of bloody Taliban assaults.
“Our homeland is like our mother, and we would die for our mother,” said the Afghan voting worker. “So let them come: five, 10, 12, 1,200 attacks, I don’t care. They will die like dogs.”