Taliban recruit young fighters ahead of Afghan vote

2014-06-02 14:47
Taliban soldiers (File, AP)

Taliban soldiers (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kabul - Taliban insurgents intent on disrupting a run-off in the Afghan presidential election have begun recruiting fighters from radical Islamic schools, and ramped up their campaign of violence, officials and sources say.

The number of weekly attacks rose by around 10% to more than 350 incidents - including suicide attacks, gun-battles and roadside bombs - in the final week of May, according to a Western security firm.

Unlike the first round of voting which took place in April when much of the mountainous country was still covered with snow, millions of Afghans will head to the polls this time at the height of the Taliban fighting season.

The first round was praised as an unexpected success after the Taliban failed to cause major trouble, but the security picture looks more challenging ahead of the 14 June run-off.

"The intelligence information we have is that dozens of madrasas and Taliban training centres inside Quetta [in Pakistan] have been closed and many young men sent into Kandahar and others southern provinces to disrupt the election," said Dawa Khan Minapal, a spokesperson for the Kandahar governor.

"They [Taliban] have already started a campaign of suicide and roadside bombings to scare people away from voting."

Afghanistan habitually accuses neighbouring Pakistan of sheltering insurgents and not doing enough to weed out militants from its lawless areas straddling the Afghan border.

The Afghan Taliban's spring offensive officially kicked off in mid-May, with violence on the rise across the country.

An intelligence official told Reuters the offensive targeted remote areas of Kandahar, Helmand and Zabul provinces to instil an atmosphere of fear and discourage people from voting.

"We have enough fighters and men to stand against the election," said Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid. "We have warned people not to take part in the vote because this is an American process, or face consequences."

Army ready to hit back

More than 350 000 security forces were deployed for the first round, and rings of checkpoints and roadblocks around the capital, Kabul, may well have thwarted Taliban plans to hit voters and polling stations.

Despite the dangers they faced at polling stations, nearly 60% of the 12 million people eligible to vote turned out in the first round.

No one claimed a clear majority in the first round. Abdullah Abdullah, a former anti-Soviet resistance fighter, finished top with 45%, with Ashraf Ghani second with 32%.

The election takes place as foreign troops continue to trickle out of Afghanistan after more than a decade of war.

With more than 300 000 Afghan forces again due to provide security, officials have vowed to ensure a safe vote.

"The Taliban movement and activities have no doubt increased this time and it is designed to disrupt the elections," said Sayeed Waqef Shah, the 205 Army Corps commander for southern Afghanistan.

"But we have already planned a big operations to hit them back in order to pave the way for a peaceful vote."
Read more on:    taliban  |  afghanistan

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.