Grief turns to anger over Kabul suicide attack

2018-04-24 06:11
An Afghan man digs a grave for one of the 57 victims of a bomb blast before the burial a day after the attack on a voter registration centre in Kabul.  (Shah Marai, AFP)

An Afghan man digs a grave for one of the 57 victims of a bomb blast before the burial a day after the attack on a voter registration centre in Kabul. (Shah Marai, AFP)

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Grieving Afghans buried their loved ones in Kabul on Monday amid growing anger over a suicide attack on a voter registration centre in the city that killed at least 57 people including children and wounded more than 100.

The bomber blew himself up on Sunday morning in a large crowd queuing to collect their national ID certificates so they could register to vote in long-delayed legislative elections scheduled for October.

The force of the blast, which was claimed by the Islamic State group, caused carnage in the street in the heavily Shi'ite-populated neighbourhood in the west of the Afghan capital.

Pools of blood and body parts mixed with shattered glass, blood-stained ID documents and passport-sized photos on the ground.

Anguish turned to anger on social media as ordinary Afghans blamed the Kabul government for failing to protect its people – a constant refrain after such attacks.

"They (the government) arrests them and then releases them to kill innocent people," Ahmad Ahmadi wrote on Facebook.

A Facebook user called Aminullah posted: "This government is intentionally creating chaos to continue their term illegally. The only way forward is to vote and get rid of this corrupt government."

An impact on voters' participation

Funerals for some of the victims began hours after the attack on Sunday and more bodies were buried on Monday.

At one of the largest Shi'ite cemeteries in Kabul, half a dozen freshly dug graves could be seen. Around 16 bodies were buried on Sunday afternoon and more funerals were planned.

The attack was the latest in a series of assaults on voter registration centres across the country, fuelling concerns over the impact on participation in the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections.

Centres in the central province of Ghor and the northwestern province of Badghis have been attacked since voter registration began on April 14.

Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7 000 polling centres for the parliamentary and district council elections.

Officials have been pushing people to register amid fears a low turnout will undermine the credibility of the polls, which are seen as a test run for next year's presidential vote.

Independent Election Commission spokesperson Shafi Jalali said Sunday's attack would not interrupt election preparations.

"We hold meetings with security force almost every day and they have assured us that they will provide security for all voter registration centres," Jalali told AFP.

"The process has not been interrupted and it will continue."

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