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Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 31 Afghans in Kabul

April 21, 2018
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Afghans at the site of a suicide bombing in Kabul, where people had gone in response to a push by the authorities to get more people to register to vote.Credit Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed at least 31 people on Sunday as they lined up at a government office in Kabul to register to vote, raising new concerns about violence undermining Afghanistan’s long-delayed parliamentary elections.

The attacker detonated his explosives as national identity cards were being distributed in the western part of Kabul, the capital.

Wahidullah Majrooh, a spokesman for the Afghan Health Ministry, said 31 people were known dead and at least 54 others wounded.

The victims had gone to the office in response to a push by the authorities to get more people to register to vote. Public interest in the October elections has been alarmingly low because of voter fatigue after successive fraudulent elections and concerns about the threat to safety at polling stations posed by suicide bombers and other violence from groups opposing the government.

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The country’s parliamentary elections have been delayed by three years as the leaders of the coalition government, which came out of a messy presidential election that almost tore the country apart, debated measures to prevent the fraud that had marred previous elections.

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After public disagreements that added to the voter fatigue, the leaders announced an October date for the elections. They also decided to declare void the millions of voter identification cards already in circulation, which have been used in vote rigging in the past.

Instead, they asked people to return to their local polling centers and register with their national ID cards. Officials and party leaders have expressed concern about the low response, especially after recent attacks targeting registration centers or their staff.

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