As a follow up from yesterday’s post on violence, here’s an excerpt from the UN’s recent report on civilian causalities in Afghanistan. The entire report, which notes a disturbing uptick in violence experienced by ordinary Afghans this year is available here. Overall, however, election related violence fits into these wider trends and, we would argue, the elections themselves have contributed significantly to the potential for violence in politics.
5 April Presidential and Provincial Council Elections
On 5 April – Presidential and Provincial Council Election Day – UNAMA documented 151 civilian casualties (27 deaths of civilian voters, IEC staff, children, women and other civilians and a further 128 injured) from attacks deliberately targeting the electoral process. In addition to these civilian casualties, UNAMA verified reports of six ANP killed and 20 injured (a total of 26 ANP casualties) while protecting polling centres or escorting IEC convoys of electoral materials. These figures do not include Afghan security forces killed or injured at check-posts or while performing duties outside of electoral protection. The majority of the civilian casualties on 5 April election day resulted from ground engagements, in particular, mortars, rockets and shooting, mainly targeting polling centers, although some IED attacks took place.
14 June Run-off Presidential Election
On 14 June, election day, UNAMA documented 217 civilian casualties including 54 deaths of civilian voters, IEC staff, children, women and other civilians and a further 163 injured from 110 attacks deliberately targeting the electoral process. In addition to the above civilian casualties, UNAMA received reports of 87 ANP casualties (21 ANP killed and 66 injured) 174 while protecting polling centres or escorting IEC convoys of electoral materials. Of the 110 incidents of election-related violence, carried out by a party to the conflict all civilian casualty incidents resulted from attacks by Anti-Government Elements with one exception of ANA responding to an attack and a stray mortar hitting a residential home.
Within the 110 incidents, UNAMA recorded 58 ground engagements – mostly stand-off attacks using area weapons such as mortars and rockets – as well as 31 IED attacks. Other incidents included assaults, abductions, mutilation and crossfire. The majority of civilian casualties resulted from mortars directed at polling centres and district administration centres which impacted residential areas and homes. The vast majority of women and child casualties resulted from such attacks. On 14 June Election Day, children accounted for 38 per cent of the total civilian casualties. Most child deaths resulted from mortars or rockets targeting polling centres and impacting civilian homes.
UNAMA also documented two separate instances of Anti-Government Elements in Herat province alleged to have cut off fingers of civilians who had voted. In one of the incidents, Anti-Government Elements were alleged to have cut off the index fingers of 11 civilians as punishment for having voted. The Taliban issued a statement denying involvement in the finger cutting incident.
Following is an account from one of the victims:
“At 0800 hours we went to the polling center in the Asadi area to vote. On the way back, 12 of us traveling in a private vehicle were stopped by eight or nine armed men on motorcycles. The men instructed us to go to Haqawba village (our home village) where we remained for two hours. Then they took us to Tagow Village and then Shaku Arbab Ismail village. We heard the men speaking saying a decision had been taken that our fingers should be cut. The men forced the local doctor to come to the area and inject us with anesthesia. Before they cut our fingers, they tied a string to the finger to cut off the blood flow. Then, one by one, we were selected. They did not ask who we voted for. They just laid us on the ground, sharpened a knife and cut our fingers on a big stone. I passed out after they cut my finger but before they left they told us to ‘Go to the President you voted for and tell him to treat your wounds.‟ They said they were still looking for voters and now are village is somehow surrounded by these insurgents. There are no Afghan security posts nearby.175”
–A victim of mutilation as punishment for voting during the Presidential runoff elections in Kushk Rabat-e-Sangi District, Herat province on 14 June 2014.
On Election Day 14 June, UNAMA recorded nine deaths as well as nine injuries of IEC staff, including female searchers. For example, on 14 June, a RC-IED detonated in the vicinity of a bus carrying IEC staff, killing 11 and injuring two. Most of the attacks on 14 June resulting in civilian casualties took place in the western region. Of the 97 civilian casualty incidents, 35 took place in the west, mostly in Herat, Farah and Ghor provinces. UNAMA recorded 18 incidents in the eastern region, mostly Nangarhar and Kunar. Eleven (11) incidents occurred in the north, mostly Faryab and the remaining incidents mostly occurring in the northeast, south and southeast regions.
Other attacks and incidents during electoral process
In addition to the civilian casualties recorded on the two election days, UNAMA documented incidents of Anti-Government Elements carrying out attacks against elections workers, candidates and their supporters and other civilians involved in the electoral process.
Examples of attacks against civilians involved in the electoral process:
On 14 June, Anti-Government Elements fired several mortar rounds targeting
the polling centre near the Terezai district administration building in Khost
province. One of the rounds missed its target and hit a civilian house belonging to a Kuchi family, killing six civilians (all children) and injuring 12, of which 10
were children and 2 were women.
On 14 June, a mortar landed in De Alika area of Shindand Disitrct, Herat
province killing one woman, two children, and injuring two women and one
On 14 June in Rodat district of Nangarhar province, two children were killed (a
six-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy) and seven civilians were wounded (five
boys and two men) when a mortar round fired by AGE impacted next to a well
from which they were collecting water.
On 5 April, Anti-Government Elements attacked a polling station in Khanabad
district, Kunduz with mortar and small arms fire. Afghan security forces also
responded by firing mortar rounds. One man was killed and five children were
injured as a result of the crossfire.
On 8 March, in Passaband district, Ghor province, Anti-Government Elements
attacked an electoral civic education team while it was conducting civic
awareness training. Although the electoral team escaped unharmed, one ANP
guarding the team was captured and executed by the Anti-Government