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Afghanstan:Taliban promises attacks as Afghans prepare for polls

A poster of a woman contestant. 418 women are among 2500 contestants.

Afghans are set to elect 249 representatives of the lower house on October 20 amid threats of attacks by the Taliban to disrupt the all process.

More than 2,500 people, including 418 are women, are competing for the 249 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament.

Besides lingering concerns over technical and logistical issues, the Taliban, Afghanistan’s largest armed group issued a statement on Monday saying that its fighters will target government security forces to disrupt the elections.

Describing the polls as a ‘malicious American conspiracy’ and urging voters to boycott them, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the militants would pull no punches to disrupt the long-delayed ballot scheduled for October 20.

“People who are trying to help in holding this process successfully by providing security should be targeted and no stone should be left unturned for the prevention and failure [of the election],” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in the statement.

The interior ministry dismissed the Taliban’s statement as ‘words fed to them by their foreign backers’ and said security would be provided for voters.

The parliamentary polls were originally set to be held in early 2015 following presidential elections but were delayed to July 7, 2018 and were then pushed to October 20 due to security fears and reforms in voter registration.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) are determined to carry on the elections amid threats.

On Friday IEC announced that to avoid vote rigging a total of 22,000 biometric devices had arrived in Kabul to be used across the country, including 760 warring districts.

IEC spokesman Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi said at least 8.8 million people have registered so far citing security as a major challenge.

“The biggest challenge is time and security at the moment. We don’t know how and when people will be trained and assisted in using this technology,” Mohammed Amiri, an activist based in Kabul, told reporters on Monday.

The Taliban – Afghanistan’s largest militant group that was toppled from power in the 2001 US-led invasion – typically issue inflammatory and hyperbolic statements about the Afghan government and its international backers.