Afghanistan: Khost mosque blast kills 14, wounds dozens

Explosion hits Khost mosque used as voter registration site, raising more security concerns about process before poll.

    At least 14 people have been killed by an explosion at a mosque in eastern Afghanistan that was being used as a voter registration centre, according to a health official.

    Waheed Majrooh, a spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Public Health, told Al Jazeera more than 30 others were wounded in Sunday's attack, which took place inside Yaqoubi mosque in the city of Khost.

    The bomb went off as civilians gathered both for prayers and to register.

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Al Jazeera that the group was not involved in the attack.

    Safety concerns

    Afghanistan is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in October.

    Earlier this month, bombings at voter registration centres in the capital, Kabul, and in Baghlan province killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 100.

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul.

    "Attacks on voter registration centres, on election officials and election workers [show] clearly opponents of the government are trying to derail these long-awaited elections," said Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul.

    An estimated one million people have so far registered to take part in the ballot since the process began last month, Glasse noted, still well short of the government's target of 15 million registrations by mid-June.

    "That now seems a very distant prospect," added Glasse, noting that many people in Kabul were "frightened to go to any of these voter registration centres".

    "Some of them are in schools and parents have objected to this because they are worried about the safety factor."

    Low turnout

    Election officials have also admitted that the registration turnout has so far been low.

    Aminullah Habibi, a Kabul-based former adviser to international forces in Afghanistan, told Al Jazeera that the reason for the low figure is the lack of security around registration centres.

    "If such attacks continue to happen, it will definitely deter people from registering. This raises a lot of questions about the ability of the government to have this election," he said.

    "It has been only a month since the registrations are open and so far we have only seen about a million people who have registered for voting.

    "The government is not able to manage security properly, despite having enough resources for it."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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