Taliban militants have cut off the ink-stained fingers of 11 Afghan men as a punishment for disobeying their order not to vote in the election for the crucial presidential run-off that saw a higher than expected turnout of 52 per cent.
ZEE News “The insurgents who were defeated today cut off inked fingers of 11 voters in #Herat. The injured ppl transported to the hospital,” Afghanistan’s Deputy Interior Minister Ayoub Salangi tweeted. The gruesome incident took place yesterday in Herat Province after the 11 men, mostly elders, who returned after casting their ballot in the run-off to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has been in office since 2001.
The election will decide whether former Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah or ex-World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani leads the war-torn country. This election will be the first time that power in Afghanistan has been democratically transferred. Officials said over seven million people voted, a higher than expected turnout of 52 per cent based on an estimated electorate of 13.5 million voters.
Taliban militants, who had threatened to disrupt the vote, launched low-level attacks in which at least 46 people were killed across the country. In a statement, Taliban had warned people to “remain far away from the polling stations… Lest you should be hurt or killed.”
Election commission chief Ahmad Yousef Nooristani said fewer than 200 of the 6,365 polling stations were unable to operate because of security concerns. Of those who turned out to vote, 38 per cent were women and 62 per cent were men, he was quoted as saying by the BBC. Nooristani also said there had been some complaints of irregularities which would be investigated.
After casting his own ballot, President Karzai told voters that their participation would help lead to “stability and a prosperous life” in the country. “In reality, today is the day that Afghanistan is stepping from a transition period to stability, development and peace,” he said. “Today is your day to come out and save your soil from being ruined, bring stability to your country, brighten its future, choose your president and found the future of children of this soil by your vote.”
Presidential candidate Abdullah thanked “the whole nation of participating in the election” and called for a full investigation in the allegations of fraud. Abdullah had won 45 per cent of the first-round vote, with Ghani securing 31.6 per cent – neither achieved the 50 per cent needed to avoid a second round. As most foreign soldiers prepare to withdraw by the end of this year, the next president will face multiple challenges.
Even though the day was marked by violence, the International Security Assistance Force still lauded the election as a security success. “ISAF commends the Afghan National Security Forces, who essentially conducted non-stop security operations following the April 5th elections,” said an ISAF news release.
“The ANSF led all aspects of security, securing approximately 6,200 polling centers across the country. This is a historic accomplishment,” CNN reported, quoting the ISAF as saying.