Officials from the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Defense (MoD) have highlighted their success in preventing militants from disrupting this year’s election process following Saturday’s presidential runoff vote.
The second round election, much like the first round in April, proceeded without any major issues related to insurgent violence as millions of voters around the country were able to cast their ballots for the country’s next president.
General Muhammad Ayoub Salangi, the Deputy Minister of Interior, said Taliban insurgents, along with other foreign and domestic terrorist groups, had planned extensively for causing trouble during the election. But, “despite all the planning of enemies and their propaganda, they could not disrupt the elections,” Salangi said.
At a press conference in Kabul on Sunday, Ministry of Defense spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi expressed a similar sentiment. He said that face-to-face attacks by militants had decreased 37% from the first round to the second. He said most of the casualties on Saturday were caused by roadside bombs.
“During the first round of the elections, the enemy had 432 face-to-face and rocket attacks, but based on the statistics from June 14, 273 face-to-face and rocket attacks took place, which is almost half,” Gen. Azimi said. “The security forces were placed in areas that were vulnerable.”
In the days leading up to the election, security officials said thousands of troop reinforcements were deployed around the country. And with the help of valuable intelligence from the National Directorate of Security (NDS), preemptive operations were launched in order to cut the legs out from under the groups planning attacks for Election Day.
Nevertheless, while there were fewer direct attacks on Election Day, there were in fact more civilian casualties than there were on April 5.
According to officials, 33 civilians were killed and 63 others injured by violence during the voting process on Saturday. Following the closing of polls at 4:00pm, another 11 civilians died in Samangan when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Ten of the passengers were members of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah’s monitoring team, and one was a four year old girl, the daughter of one of the observers.
Additionally, the fingers of 11 individuals were severed by Taliban forces in Herat as punishment for voting.
One of the victims, Muhammad Alem, said he and the others were seized returning from a polling center. “They closed our eyes and kicked us and then cut our fingers with a dull knife.”