World

Dozens killed in attack at Kabul voter registration centre

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a blast that hit a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul, the militant group's AMAQ news agency said.

Key points:

  • The attack took place at a voter registration centre, where people waited for identity cards
  • The voter registration process is crucial to the credibility of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
  • The blast took place in a Shi'ite neighbourhood previously attacked by Islamic State

The blast, carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest, killed at least 31 people and wounded 54 others, a health ministry spokesman said.

The attack targeted a project of key importance to the credibility of President Ashraf Ghani's Western-backed Government, which has pledged to hold parliamentary elections this year.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said a bomber on foot approached the centre where officials had been issuing identity cards as part of a process of registering voters for the election scheduled for October.

People are seen searching through papers smeared by blood.

The explosion destroyed cars and shattered windows in nearby buildings, leaving rubble strewn across the street.

"There were women, children … Everyone had come to get their identity cards," said Bashir Ahmad who had been nearby when the attack took place.

The blast took place in Dasht-e Barchi, an area of western Kabul inhabited by many members of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority, which has been repeatedly hit by attacks claimed by Islamic State.

Clothes and sandals are seen at the site of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul.

Voter registration centres have been set up across Afghanistan ahead of long-delayed parliamentary and district council elections and there have been serious concerns militants might attack them.

Mr Ghani has been under heavy pressure from his international partners to ensure the elections are held this year, ahead of a presidential election due in 2019 although there has been widespread scepticism they will take place.

Unless the process of registering millions of voters, many of whom do not have national identity cards, can be completed before winter sets, the vote would almost certainly have to be postponed until next year.

A man and two boys are seen looking out through a broken window at the site of the suicide attack.

Reuters

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