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Bomb blast at election rally in north-eastern Afghanistan left 22 killed

On Saturday, October 13th 2018, a bomb was detonated targeting an election rally in north-eastern Afghanistan. At least 22 were killed and 32 were wounded in the attack.

The victims include both security officials and civilians.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast, which was caused by an explosives-laden motorbike in Takhar province’s Rustaq district.

Other attacks have targeted events in relation to the election campaign process, prior to the vote on October 20th. On October 2nd 2018, a suicide attack on an election rally in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province left at least 14 killed and wounded 42.

Such attacks have been on the rise in Afghanistan. In the first half of 2018, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 2,002 civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan, compared to the 1,581 civilian casualties recorded in the same period last year – an increase of 27%.

From January to the end of June 2018, the main cause of civilian casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan continues to be improvised explosive devices (IEDs), responsible for 83% of all civilian casualties.

With civilian casualties from IEDs increasing year-on-year in Afghanistan since 2013, 2017 saw a rise of 40% compared to the previous year. And, for the first time in AOAV’s recording, Afghanistan was the country worst impacted by IEDs – a spot claimed by Iraq for the previous six years.

With civilian casualties already set to be higher this year in Afghanistan, the level of IED harm should be of considerable concern.

AOAV calls for states and international organisations to work collaboratively to generate greater awareness of the number of civilians killed and injured each year by IEDs, and encourage a greater stigma from political, religious and social leaders on the use of IEDs. There is an urgent need for preventative measures to be implemented by States and the international community.