UN documents civilian casualties during recent election

A United Nations report released Tuesday found that 56 civilians were killed and 379 others wounded in attacks during Afghanistan's recent parliamentary election.

Fifty-two civilians were killed and 339 others were wounded in election day violence, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report said. The rest were killed or wounded in the days that followed when delayed polling took place in some provinces.

Election day for Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections since 2010 was Oct. 20 and took place against a backdrop of near-daily attacks by Taliban insurgents, who have seized nearly half the country and have repeatedly refused offers to negotiate with the Afghanistan government. The U.S.-backed government is rife with corruption and many Afghans have said they do not expect the elections to be fair. Yet millions of Afghans have defied Taliban threats and waited, often for hours, to cast their votes.

The numbers reveal that more civilians were harmed in this year's election violence than in the four previous Afghanistan national elections, according to the report.

Voting in some provinces was extended by a day to Oct. 21. Elections were delayed for a week in southern Kandahar province after an attack by an elite Afghan guard killed two top government officials, including a powerful provincial police chief. Eastern Ghazni province was the only one of 34 Afghan provinces where the election could not take place for security gets better. Voting there has been postponed for a year.

Despite the violence, the U.N. report said many Afghans exercised their right to vote, with the first day of polling seeing the highest number of civilian casualties recorded on any election day since the U.N. agency began documenting civilian casualties in 2009.

According to the Independent Election Commission, of approximately 8.8 million Afghans registered to vote, around 4.2 million cast a ballot in the election.

From the beginning of the voter registration period on April 14 through the campaign period and two days of silence ending Oct. 19, the day before the election, UNAMA verified 152 election-related security incidents resulting in 496 civilian casualties, of which 156 were killed and 340 were wounded.

"Women and children comprised 35 percent of these civilian casualties," the report said.

Preliminary results from the election will not be released before mid-November and final results will not be out until December.