Skip to main content

Taliban attack Afghan election commission compound ahead of vote

By Qadir Sediqi and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 6:37 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
Smoke rises from the compound of the Afghan election commission after an attack by insurgents on Saturday.
Smoke rises from the compound of the Afghan election commission after an attack by insurgents on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Afghan security forces battled the militants for about five hours
  • NEW: Deputy minister says all five attackers killed, two people injured
  • Taliban have vowed to disrupt April elections
  • It is the second attack on the election commission this week

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban insurgents attacked Afghanistan's election commission headquarters in Kabul on Saturday, staff and a government official said, a week before the April 5 presidential election.

Afghan security forces battled the militants for about five hours. Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, the deputy interior minister, said all five attackers were killed and two people were injured.

According to Salangi, the five insurgents wore women's burqas when they entered a building close to the Independent Election Commission compound at around 12:30 p.m. local time. He said they used small guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Earlier, a commission employee had told CNN that two explosions had erupted outside the commission's compound. Following the blasts, militants took up combat positions outside the compound and engaged in a firefight with Afghan security forces, Mohammad Dawran said.

In a statement, a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan's violent vote

Spate of assaults

A commission source told CNN rocket-propelled grenades hit two warehouses inside the commission compound.

The source, who declined to be named, said both warehouses had caught fire when they were hit.

Saturday's attack, which forced the closure of Kabul's airport for hours, follows a spate of recent assaults in the capital in the run-up to national elections in April 5. The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the elections to replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai and to punish anyone involved in them.

On Friday, five militants set off a car bomb at a guesthouse used by foreigners and then held people as hostages until police killed one of the militants, and the other four blew themselves up. A girl was killed in the attack.

On Tuesday, militants stormed an election commission office in Kabul, leading to a five-hour gunbattle with Afghan security services. Five people were killed -- two police officers, two election commission workers and a provincial council candidate.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for both of those attacks.

5 militants dead, ending Kabul hostage situation

CNN's Qadir Sediqi reported in Kabul, and CNN's Ben Brumfield wrote in Atlanta; CNN's Anna Coren and Marie-Louise Gumuchian contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT