Saturday, February 24, 2018

Attacks threaten to undermine Afghan vote

KABUL, Afghanistan — Suicide bombers dressed as women broke into a private home on Saturday and began firing rocket-propelled grenades at their target next door: the headquarters of Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission, the latest insurgent assault on this country's closely watched presidential vote.

The attackers died but there were no other reports of fatalities and two police officers were wounded in the assault, which lasted for more than five hours, officials said.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility in what has become an all too familiar occurrence in Afghanistan's capital one week before a pivotal election to choose President Hamid Karzai's successor.

The Taliban have vowed to disrupt the polling, describing it as an American-sponsored plot, and in recent days have succeeded in sowing fear if not delaying the casting of ballots on Saturday. The election headquarters were also attacked recently, leaving five people dead.

On Friday, five Taliban insurgents struck a guest house run by a San Rafael, Calif.-based charity organization called Roots of Peace, beginning a gun battle with police and private security guards that left at least one person, an Afghan child, dead.

Two weeks ago, Taliban gunmen managed to get past normally stiff security at Kabul's luxury Serena Hotel, killing nine people including a prominent Afghan journalist, his wife and two young children.

Afghan, United Nations and U.S. officials have said the election will go on as planned, amid heavy security, but it was unclear how many Afghans were growing shy of casting their ballots given Taliban threats to directly target anyone who participates.

"The U.N. remains undeterred in carrying out its work and I am confident that the IEC is as equally determined," Nicholas Haysom, the ranking U.N. official in Afghanistan, said in a statement. "More importantly, I am sure that ordinary Afghans remain undeterred in their desire to have their say on the future direction of their country."

Saturday's attack began about 12:30 when five insurgents in burqas, the body-length garment Muslim women wear for modesty, broke into a private home about 400 yards from the election commission headquarters. One suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance to the house while the others stormed the gate, said Hashmat Stanikzai, a Kabul police spokesman.

The insurgents then started firing on the compound with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, said Mohammad Ayob Salangi, the deputy interior minister. Two rockets directly struck the compound, officials said, although the attackers did not attempt to gain access to the election offices.

Police responded to the attack and killed the remaining four insurgents, Stanikzai said. Election workers holed up inside the compound but escaped unharmed.

The owner of the four-story house, Haji Muhibullah, said he began receiving threats about two months ago but that his requests for security were ignored.

Comments
Republican, veteran and gun rights supporter Brian Mast says assault weapons should be banned

Republican, veteran and gun rights supporter Brian Mast says assault weapons should be banned

WASHINGTON – Congressman Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has as much authority on guns as anyone, having served in the Army and losing both legs in Afghanistan. He says assault weapons such as the AR-15 should be banned."I cannot support the primary w...
Updated: 1 minute ago

Greek police arrest 2 migrant traffickers, 14 Syrians

Greek police say they have arrested two migrant traffickers who were transporting 14 undocumented Syrians, eight of them children
Updated: 5 minutes ago

AP Top News at 1:24 p.m. EST

AP Top News at 1:24 p.m. EST
Updated: 12 minutes ago

'Vicar of Dibley' actress Emma Chambers dies at 53

British actress Emma Chambers has died at the age of 53
Updated: 12 minutes ago

Guatemala City Archbishop Vian, critic of graft, dies at 70

Roman Catholic authorities say Oscar Julio Vian, archbishop of Guatemala City and an outspoken critic of corruption in the Central American nation, has died at 70
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

Ondrej Palat skating, likely mid-March return

It is an encouraging sign for the Lightning that wing Ondrej Palat is back on the ice, even if it's just light skating.Palat is arguably the team's best two-way forward, someone who plays in all situations, so Tampa Bay has missed him big-time.But Pa...
Updated: 14 minutes ago

Reds sign reliever Oliver Perez to minor league contract

The Cincinnati Reds have signed left-handed pitcher Oliver Perez to a minor league contract
Updated: 17 minutes ago
After years of dejection, proponents of gun laws see hope

After years of dejection, proponents of gun laws see hope

'Our kids have started a revolution:' Teens' activism after Florida school shooting has some hopeful for action on gun policy
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Georgia county working to hire Spanish-speaking poll workers

One of Georgia's largest counties is trying to hire hundreds of Spanish-speaking poll workers for upcoming elections
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Trump officials fight eviction from Panama hotel they manage

Trump officials fight eviction from Panama hotel they manage

One of President Donald Trump's family businesses is battling an effort to physically evict its team of executives from a luxury hotel in Panama where they manage operations
Updated: 22 minutes ago