More than 400 Afghans were killed or wounded in poll-related violence during three days of voting last month, the United Nations said Tuesday, making the parliamentary ballot the deadliest on record.
The vast majority of the 435 casualties – 56 dead and 379 wounded – happened on the first day of voting on Oct. 20, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report.
That compares with 251 people killed or injured in the fraud-tainted presidential election of 2014 and is more than any other poll since UNAMA began documenting civilian casualties in 2009.
In the six months leading up to the ballot, nearly 500 people were killed or wounded – more than a third of them women and children – and 245 abducted.
“Deliberate acts of violence against civilians and civilian objects – which include polling centers – as well as indiscriminate attacks, are strictly forbidden under international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes,” UNAMA said.
Days before the election, the Taliban issued several warnings that it would attack polling centers. It advised voters to stay home and candidates to withdraw from the race.
The Taliban mostly used rockets, grenades, mortars and bombs to disrupt the ballot and deter people from showing up at voting sites, UNAMA said.
The deadliest single attack, a suicide explosion in Kabul that killed 13 people and wounded 40, was claimed by Daesh (ISIS), it said.
Official figures show roughly 4.2 million Afghans voted, compared with nearly nine million who were registered to participate.
Many suspect a significant number of those were based on fake identification documents that fraudsters planned to use to stuff ballot boxes.
Voting was held over three days after problems with untested bio-metric verification devices and missing or incomplete voter rolls caused lengthy delays at polling centers.
Many voting sites opened late or not at all.
Voters in the southern province of Kandahar had to wait a week to cast their ballot after the assassination of a powerful police chief sparked fears of a flare up in violence.
The parliamentary poll, which was more than three years late, is seen as a test run for next year’s presidential election.
It is also considered an important milestone ahead of a U.N. meeting in Geneva this month where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes.”
The release of initial results has been postponed to Nov. 23.