Afghan poll official ambushed, UN sees challenges

The United Nations' Afghan envoy described next month's election as the most complicated ever, as another attack on an election official on Tuesday underscored the challenges as the war-torn country prepares to vote, Reuters reported.

"I emphasise that these are the most complicated elections I have seen," U.N. Special Representative Kai Eide told reporters as he visited a Kabul warehouse where the Afghan election commission is finalising preparations for the poll.

"I mentioned to you how inaccessible the country is, how challenging the whole logistical operation is, and also the fact that the country is a country in conflict." he said.

Away from the capital, Abdullah Abdullah, one of the leading challengers to President Hamid Karzai, said one of his local campaign officials had been shot and wounded and a bodyguard killed in Afghanistan's volatile east.

It was the third attack on a candidate or campaign official in six days. On Sunday, Karzai's senior vice-presidential running mate Mohammad Qasim Fahim escaped unhurt from a Taliban ambush, just as another minor candidate had last week. [ID:nSP411867]

Abdullah, once a close aide to widely revered Tajik guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Masood, said campaign official Mohammad Ismael was in hospital but his injuries were not life-threatening.

He said he did not think the ambush, which happened as Ismael drove to meet supporters in Laghman province, was the work of the Taliban but gave few other details.

"Security is a concern. This is the third time that our people have come under attack. We hope the government will investigate it but it doesn't seem like it's from the Taliban," Abdullah told a small group of reporters in Panjshir province.

INCREASED VIOLENCE

The election, the second in Afghanistan's short history as a democracy, is being held amid increased violence, with thousands of U.S. Marines and British troops launching major operations in southern Helmand early this month, sparking a Taliban backlash. [ID:nLR336228]

Attacks across Afghanistan this year had already reached their worst level since the Taliban's austere Islamist government was ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces -- led by Fahim -- in 2001 and have escalated since the Helmand offensive began.

The Helmand operations are the first under U.S. President Barack Obama's new regional strategy to defeat the Taliban and its Islamist allies and stabilise Afghanistan. Thousands of extra troops are being poured in, in part to secure the elections.

The number of U.S. and NATO troops in the country has reached 101,000, according to the Pentagon. U.S. troop levels will rise from the current 62,000 to about 68,000 by year's end, more than double the 32,000 at the end of 2008.

Britain is the second largest contributor with 9,000 troops, but mounting casualties during the latest offensive is straining British public opinion.

On a visit to Washington, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband did not respond directly when asked in an interview whether more British troops would be heading to Afghanistan.

"I think that depends on the situation on the ground and the burden-sharing among the allies, because this is a 42-country effort. It's important that all countries play their appropriate part." Miliband said on the PBS program "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

He said the increased security for the Aug. 20 elections was crucial because "credible government is critical for the political and military drive forward in Afghanistan."

EU election monitors and respected think tank the International Crisis Group have already expressed concerns over security, the Brussels-based ICG warning last month that poor security could result in widespread voting fraud.

U.N. envoy Eide said: "The aim is to make as much of the country as secure as possible for elections to take place."

He praised the work of election officials who face the difficult task of organising a poll in a country of vast deserts, and high, craggy mountains and lush valleys. [ID:nSP484425]

Afghanistan's 17 million-odd eligible voters will cast their ballots in some 7,000 voting centres or 28,500 smaller voting stations across Afghanistan's 34 provinces and 356 districts.

A fleet of 3,500 trucks will carry voting materials to the polling stations, as well as 3,000 donkeys "to get people to the most remote areas," Eide said.

Karzai is a clear front-runner ahead of a field of 38 challengers led by Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani -- a former finance minister and high-ranking World Bank official.

"It has not been perfect but it has been a good and informative campaign so far," Eide said. "I think it's been a quite vibrant debate where the candidates have, as we urged them to, behaved with dignity."

Tajikistan, Iran vow to expand mutually beneficial cooperation
Tajikistan, Iran vow to expand mutually beneficial cooperation
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Tajikistan despite COVID-19
Kazakhstan boosts trade with Tajikistan despite COVID-19
Georgia, Tajikistan contribute to intensification of cargo transit
Georgia, Tajikistan contribute to intensification of cargo transit
Loading Bars
Latest
German court clears path for EU COVID-19 recovery fund
Iran’s NIDC announces number of drilled wells
Iran adds advanced machines at Natanz uranium enrichment plant: IAEA
Italy's cabinet unveils roadmap for reopening starting April 26
Pakistan: Several killed in explosion at Quetta hotel
MSF urges rich countries to back COVID vaccine patent waiver
U.S. commanders seek approval for aircraft carrier near Afghanistan during withdrawal
Britain's Heathrow Airport turns down airline requests for extra flights from India
Qatar reports 819 new COVID-19 cases, 199,180 in total
Uzbekistan reveals number of investment projects implemented with S.Korea, Japan
Azerbaijani gymnast reaches final of European Championship in Basel
Turkey records highest daily COVID-19 deaths toll yet, total nears 37,000
Executive power of Azerbaijan’s Astara district opens tender for overhaul of roads
Georgia introduces new regulation on activation of roaming services
Azerbaijan to increase production of pomegranate in 2021
Iran halts flights to 39 countries due to rising COVID: CAO
NASA, SpaceX delay Crew-2 mission launch to space station
Over 200 mln COVID-19 shots administered in U.S.
Olympic motto may be altered, IOC President says
Turkey extends short-term work pay scheme until June
Uzbekistan Airways plans to discontinue flights to nine countries
Review of Georgia's exports to China
Azerbaijani banks greatly expand mortgage lending volume - CBA
EU provides more details on projects supporting in Georgian energy sector
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on April 24
Extension of contract for dev't of gold-bearing deposit approved in Azerbaijan
Geostat reveals data on China's exports to Georgia
UK records another 2,396 coronavirus cases, 22 deaths
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Nizami Ganjavi Int'l Center to discuss need for human rights advocacy
Armenia demonstrates fascism in relation to historical monuments - Azerbaijani State Committee
Karabakh ceasefire agreement signed, time to move forward - Commissioner for Human Rights
Some Russian airlines receive permission to make regular flights to Azerbaijan
View of Azerbaijan's liberated territories horrifying - Belarus ambassador
Execution of memorandum on improving insurance literacy starts in Azerbaijan
Uzbekneftegaz completes drilling operations on several wells
Number of transactions at Uzbek Commodity Exchange for 1Q2021 increases
EIB to assist Uzbekistan in developing credit line for project in Aral Sea region
Longest tunnel in Iran to be opened by end of spring
WB expresses readiness to provide digital transformation support to Azerbaijan
Iran creating water trading market
Volume of credit investments in Azerbaijan's economy declines
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rebounds
WB predicts fall in gold prices in 2021
Kazakhstan to establish new mobile operator
Exports markets demonstrate growing demand for Georgian medications
Kazakhstan talks ongoing work to open CLAAS agricultural vehicles' assembly plant
Turkmenistan's Turkmenbashi refinery to launch production of Jet A-1 aviation fuel
Uzbekistan, Latvia consider prospects for co-op in ICT
Azerbaijan shows footage from Bash Garvand village of Aghdam district (VIDEO)
Postal operators of Azerbaijan, Turkey launch money transfer service at favorable tariffs
India’s crosses a Landmark with Cumulative Vaccination Coverage more than 13 Crores
SOCAR Ukraine bidding for Odessa Port Plant’s tender
London Bridge station reopens after suspicious item investigated
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
PM Modi to address virtual Leaders' Summit on Climate tomorrow
Turkmenistan's Turkmengeology opens tender for purchase of equipment
Delayed tourism recovery affects Georgian economic growth forecast
India gets elected to three UN ECOSOC bodies
Turkmenistan's Turkmengas opens tender for purchase of chemical products
UK extends G7 Foreign Ministers' meeting invite to India
Kazakhstan’s national postal service operator to buy spares via tender
Georgia prepares for UN Food Systems Summit 2021
Azerbaijan shares data on number of vaccinated citizens for Apr. 21
Azerbaijan confirms 2,075 more COVID-19 cases, 2,480 recoveries
Iran Khodro declares amount of money to be saved
IRICA discloses details of Iran’s trade turnover with neighboring countries
Turkey reveals volume of goods received at Bandirma port in 2M2021
Georgian commercial banks see increase in profits
Industrial parks will also operate in Karabakh zone - President Aliyev
COVID-19 stalls launch of direct flights between Kazakhstan, US - ambassador
European countries to resume J&J COVID vaccine deliveries
Azerbaijan discloses volume of vehicles assembled at Ganja Automobile Plant
Dutch Stone City Energy to build TPP in Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya region
WB names amount of allocations to countries against COVID-19
Carbamide production in Azerbaijan to grow, WB forecasts
Baku Stock Exchange holds auction on placement of CBA short-term notes
Turkmenistan's gas compressor plant contributes gas supply to oil wells
Eurasian Development Bank to support hospitals construction in Kazakhstan
Number of Kazakh companies increases in Turkey
Turkey unveils volume of cargo shipment through Kocaeli port
Onion exports from Georgia up, while imports decrease
Azerbaijan's Ganja Automobile Plant looks to enter markets of EAEU, neighboring countries
TCO talks release of excess amount pollutants at Kazakhstan’s Tengiz field
Azerbaijan eyes to introduce biometric e-signature system
Verizon loses more-than-expected wireless subscribers
Pace of Turkmen industry dev’t accelerating
Volume of Azerbaijan's 1Q2021 oil export to Spain disclosed
Austria increases import of Turkish-made chemicals
Silk Way West Airlines named ‘Cargo Airline of the Year 2020’
Turkey's 1Q2021 furniture export to Austria shows increase
Turkey's furniture export to Iran up
WB says global coal prices to jump in 2021
Cost of electricity imports to Georgia increase
Iran's Jam Petrochemical Complex sees increase in sales
Ukrainian Bees Airline plans to carry out Kyiv - Tbilisi - Kyiv flights
Azerbaijani state budget receipts through State Customs Committee exceed forecasts
Israel and UK consider green travel corridor
Chanel loses European court fight in trademark dispute with Huawei
Azerbaijan records decrease in lending to communications, transport sector
US committed to help diversify economic opportunities for people of Kazakhstan
All news