Afghanistan delays vote at some polling stations as blasts kill 44
Voting at polling stations that remained closed Saturday over security concerns in Afghanistan will be delayed until Sunday, the chief of the national election commission told 1TV channel, Sputnik reported.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said that at least three explosions had occurred in different areas of Kabul, where elections for the lower house of parliament were taking place, killing at least 44 and wounding 238 people. According to official information, there have been 192 incidents involving the use of arms in the course of the election day.
Following the bombings, fourn people were detained on suspicion of their role in the incidents.
"Police detained two suspects for possibly organizing terror attacks on polling sites on the election day," the statement of the Interior Ministry read.
Two others were arrested after trying to escape police, authorities said. They were carrying unregistered weapons. The men were handed over to investigators in charge of probing felonies.
Afghans went to the polls across most of the country to vote in the parliamentary election amid threats from the Taliban. Some 2,500 candidates are vying for seats in the 250-seat Wolesi Jirga.
Committee chief Abdul Badi Sayad was quoted as saying by 1TV channel that voting would be delayed at the polling stations that did not open until 1 p.m. local time (8:30 GMT).
"People did not expect to spend half a day in lines. Many hoped to exercise their civic duty and go home in an hour or two. Instead, they learned that polling stations did not have voter lists. People are furious that their lives are at risk over such miscalculations," Sayad said in a phone interview, describing the atmosphere as "tense."
Most of the polling stations in all but two Afghan provinces opened at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday. Some polling places will stay open until 9:00 p.m.
Voting in Ghazni is scheduled for next spring. The killing of Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq this week delayed voting in the restive southern region by a week. The Taliban claimed the attack and threatened to target the election.