Afghanistan will vote on Saturday in nationwide parliamentary elections. There have been multiple terrorist attacks around the country in recent weeks, and security will be tight as more attacks are expected.
This is the third election since the start of the war in 2001. This round of voting was due in 2015, but was pushed back multiple times due to political and security concerns.
You will find coverage of recent security incidents and travel advice below. (Jump to the travel advice.)
On Thursday the police chief of Kandahar, General Abdul Raziq Achakzai, was killed alongside provincial intelligence chief Abdul Wahim in an attack at the governor’s residence. Kandahar governor Zalmay Wesa was also shot and died from his wounds in a nearby hospital shortly afterwards. The Globe and Mail reports that it was ‘members of Mr. Wesa’s elite guard unit who turned their guns on their colleagues during a high-level security meeting ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections.’
US Army General Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was present at the meeting but was unharmed in the attack. Three other Americans were injured. CNN states that those wounded ‘included one US service member, a coalition contractor and one US civilian government employee, according to two US military officials. They were evacuated and are in stable condition.’
The report further adds that ‘all of those shot were in close proximity to Miller, one official said, adding that the US assesses that Raziq was the target because the shooter had the first choice of shot and went for Afghans, not Miller.’ Afghan sources have told the press that Miller was the target.
Voting in the province has been suspended for a week as a result of the security situation.
Other security incidents
These are just a handful of recent security incidents related to the election.
Farah and Zabul
- Premium Times: Blast injures five children in Afghanistan
- RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty: ‘At least 15 Police Killed’ In Taliban Attack In Northern Afghanistan
- Arab News: Taliban attacks kill 8 in Afghanistan’s north
- Washington Post: Afghanistan: German helicopters shot at, nobody injured
- Reuters: Foreign soldiers wounded, civilians killed in suicide attack in Afghanistan
- Arab News: Five Czech soldiers wounded in Afghanistan attack — ministry
- Aljazeera.com: Afghan election candidate killed in Taliban attack
- Channel NewsAsia: Death toll in Afghanistan election rally blast climbs to at least 22 – officials
- Aljazeera.com: Afghanistan’s Shia lose hope the election will bring change
- BBC News: Afghanistan’s ‘war on terror’ generation votes
- The Diplomat: Why Are Afghanistan’s Elections Crucial?
- Deutsche Welle: Afghanistan election: Can young candidates turn things around?
- Aljazeera.com: Taliban attacks threaten Afghan parliamentary elections
- Deutsche Welle: The high price of Afghanistan’s broken democracy
- Slate Magazine: There’s No Path to Victory in Afghanistan
- STRATFOR: For Afghanistan, Parliamentary Elections Are Another Step on the Rocky Road to Democracy
- Voice of America: As Afghans Prepare to Vote, Women Seek Expanded Rights
School Bell’s Ringing by Vinko Pernek of Slovenia and Afghanistan Matters on Flickr
- You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events.
- Be aware that terror attacks are extremely likely and avoid areas that are potential targets.
- Review your travel risk management plan, so you know exactly what to do in an emergency.
- Make sure you have important contact information stored in a secure offline location.
- Monitor local media.
- Set aside some supplies of food and bottled water. Make sure you know where your first aid kit is and review the contents.
- Keep your devices charged. Do not travel without a fully charged device.
- Check in regularly with friends and family. Agree check in times in advance and set up a plan for what to do if you miss a check in time.
- If something does happen, contact the local embassy as soon as it is safe to do so.
Official travel advice
From the US Embassy in Kabul, issued on the 11th of October 2018 –
Event: Afghanistan is scheduled to conduct Parliamentary elections on October 20. While the government is making preparations to provide security at polling places and in major urban centers during the elections, on election day and in the period before and after, large demonstrations or gatherings may occur which could become a target for attack by terrorist groups. Traffic restrictions limiting movement may also be implemented as a security measure or to facilitate voting. U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance and caution in the coming weeks, and should avoid crowds and traffic disruptions. Terrorists and extremist organizations are known to exploit the presence of crowds to attack civilians without warning, using methods including suicide vests, grenades, and improvised explosive devices, including magnetically attached bombs.
As a reminder, in accordance with the Travel Advisory for Afghanistan, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan. The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical. U.S. citizens currently visiting or residing in Afghanistan may wish to consider departing. The Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens who decide to remain in Afghanistan to review personal security plans, take appropriate steps to enhance personal safety, remain aware of surroundings, monitor local media for updates, and maintain a high level of vigilance.
Actions to Take:
- Avoid large crowds, gatherings, and demonstrations.
- Review your personal security plans and carry a fully charged communication device.
- Notify a trusted person of your travel and movement plans.
- Be aware of your surroundings and local security developments.
- Monitor local media and news for updates.
- Minimize non-essential travel.
Please click through here for more information, including contact details.
From the Canadian Government’s Travel Advice website –
Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place on October 20, 2018. There is a heightened risk of demonstrations and attacks before, during and after the elections. Traffic disruptions are likely due to the increased presence of security forces, especially around polling stations.
- Remain vigilant.
- Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
- Follow the advice of local authorities.
from Country Advice and Advisories updated in the last 24 hours, which can be found at: http://travel.gc.ca/destinations/afghanistan
On 20 October 2018, parliamentary elections will be held across Afghanistan. Travel, particularly in urban areas, is likely to be difficult as security forces increase protective measures for voting centres. There’s a high likelihood of protests over the election period and an increased risk of terrorist attacks, particularly at large gatherings. You should follow the instructions of local authorities.
Please click here for more information.
#Afghanistan: Parliamentary elections to take place on October 20. There is a heightened risk of demonstrations and attacks before, during and after the elections. Remain vigilant and avoid demonstrations. Follow the advice of local authorities. https://t.co/3J4gkYXUiI
— travel.gc.ca (@TravelGoC) October 17, 2018
- The Guardian: Afghanistan postpones Kandahar elections after police chief killed
- CNN: Top Afghan police chief killed, 2 Americans wounded in Kandahar attack
- The Globe and Mail: Security detail kills Kandahar officials in attack on top U.S. general in Afghanistan
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