Attacks Down, Voting Up in Afghan Elections

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2010 — Insur­gent attacks dur­ing Afghanistan’s Sept. 18 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions were down a third from the 2009 Afghan pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, and few­er than 1 per­cent of polling sta­tions expe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant vio­lence, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said today.

Although vio­lence took place in Afghanistan as the Tal­iban attempt­ed to dis­rupt the elec­tions, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said, it was less than in the past, and the num­ber of Afghans who vot­ed was high­er than last year.

The over­all num­ber of stacks was down, Lapan added, as was the num­ber of high-pro­file attacks.

“Most of the attacks we saw dur­ing the elec­tions were small-arms fire and rock­et-pro­pelled grenades,” he said. “There were only a few [impro­vised explo­sive device] inci­dents, and there were no effec­tive sui­cide-bomb­ing inci­dents.”

Offi­cials esti­mate that 40 per­cent of eli­gi­ble vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed in the elec­tions. This is up from an esti­mat­ed 35 per­cent in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions last year. Wide­spread alle­ga­tions of fraud occurred dur­ing last year’s elec­tion, and there were fraud claims this year, even before the polls closed. Offi­cials of the Inde­pen­dent Elec­tion Com­mis­sion will exam­ine the claims.

Elec­tion com­mis­sion offi­cials esti­mat­ed that 3.6 mil­lion votes were cast, with about 40 per­cent of the votes being cast by women, Lapan said.

Afghan secu­ri­ty forces han­dled secu­ri­ty at polling sta­tions, Lapan said. While Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Assis­tance Force troops were ready to help their Afghan part­ners if need­ed, “ISAF didn’t have to get active­ly involved,” he said.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, com­man­der of coali­tion forces, praised the Afghan forces for their efforts.

“I com­mend, in par­tic­u­lar, the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces, who per­formed so brave­ly today in safe­guard­ing a weapon with greater poten­tial than any oth­er: the people’s right to vote and to have a say in the future of their coun­try,” he said in a writ­ten state­ment Sept. 18.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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