The United Nations today strongly condemned the continued, targeted killing of Afghan election workers in the wake of last Saturday’s presidential run-off poll, and stressed that they must be able to carry out their important work without the threat of violence.
“Yet again, the people of Afghanistan are subject to cowardly, murderous attacks, including on those that work as election officials – it must be made clear that the latter are civilians and should not be targeted,” said Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
Two employees of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) were killed on Monday during an attack on a convoy transporting ballot boxes in the southern province of Helmand, according to a statement issued by the Mission.
Also, eight IEC workers – along with another two civilians, including a child – were killed by a remote-controlled improvised explosive device planted on a road in the northern province of Samangan on Saturday.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in Samangan, stating that they had deliberately targeted a vehicle carrying poll workers.
Mr. Kubiš said that election officials play a fundamental role in helping their fellow civilians exercise their right to determine the future of their country through democratic elections.
“Electoral workers must be able to carry out their important work without the threat of violence or intimidation,” he stressed.
Violence by anti-Government elements on the day of the election claimed the lives of 53 civilians and injured another 161. UNAMA noted that the “horrifying” number of fatalities includes 20 children and at least 10 women.
The Mission reiterated that attacks directed against civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law which parties to the armed conflict – including all anti-Government elements – must uphold.
About 60 per cent of the country’s 12 million eligible voters turned out to vote on Saturday, according to initial estimates from the IEC, choosing between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai to succeed President Hamid Karzai.