Members of the Taliban attacked the main election commission, situated in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday disguised as woman wearing full burquas.
The violent attack, which is the third of its type in just five days, took place at the heavily fortified Independent Election Commission’s headquarters on the eastern edge of Kabul ahead of national elections due to take place on April 5.
Even though the militants didn’t breach the compound itself, due to watchtowers and numerous checkpoints, two warehouses were set on fire and the compound was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-gun fire.
Around the same time as the Kabul burqa attack the United Nations mission in Afghanistan reported that a base it uses nearby was attacked by small-fire arms but that no U.N. staff members were injured.
All five of the Taliban militants who perpetrated the attack were killed by Afghan police after a four-hour standoff. Two policeman were wounded as security forces surrounded the building.
The acting U.N. chief in Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, said in a statement to the press: “The U.N. remains undeterred in carrying out its work and I am confident that the IEC is as equally determined. More importantly, I am sure that ordinary Afghans remain undeterred in their desire to have their say on the future direction of their country.”
A resident of Kabul, 23-year-old Mohammad Fared, was also defiant in the face of the attack: “No one can stop us from casting our vote on election day. We will participate in the election,” he said.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the Kabul burqa attacks, but said that the organization had planned a much more elaborate attack on the IEC compound.
Attacks on foreigners in Kabul have been stepped up recently as the Taliban moves its focus to civilian targets which aren’t as heavily protected as fortified government installations.