KABUL – The death toll in a suicide bombing at a national ID distribution centre in Kabul on Sunday has climbed to at least 57, a Public Health Ministry official said.
Among the dead are 22 women and eight children, Afghan Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Majroh said, adding that at least 119 injured in the incident had been brought to hospitals.
The on-foot suicide bomber set off his explosive vest outside the ID distribution centre in a Shiite-dominated, western neighbourhood of Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.
Emergency, an Italian NGO operating a hospital for war victims in Kabul, said at least 42 people injured in the bombing had been admitted to its trauma centre.
The centre targeted in the attack was set up to provide identification cards to voters ahead of parliamentary and provincial council elections slated for October.
Such centres have been set up by the Afghan government in hopes of increasing turnout – those without ID cannot receive a voter registration card.
The Islamic State terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack through its mouthpiece, the Amaq news agency.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, as well as the UN mission in Afghanistan, the United States and British Embassies were among those to condemn the attack.
Security is one of the main concerns for voter registration and elections as a resilient insurgency shackles Afghan forces to the battlefield throughout the country.
More than 40 per cent of polling stations for Afghan parliamentary elections could be subject to security risks affecting voter participation, an election monitor said late last month.
Mohammad Yousuf Rashed, executive director of the Free and Fair Election Forum of Afghanistan (FEFA), told dpa that out of around 7,400 polling stations due to be set up for the vote, 948 are in areas “out of government control” – meaning under Taliban control.
Also on Sunday, six people including three women and two children were killed and three others injured after a station wagon hit a roadside bomb in Baghlan province, Majroh said.
Earlier, Zabi Shuja, a spokesman for the Baghlan police, said that five people were killed and four others were injured in the incident.
He said the site of the blast was about seven kilometres outside of the provincial capital, Pul-e Khumri, and was near a voter registration centre.
Hayatullah Wafa, a provincial council member from the province, confirmed that the blast had not been at a voter registration centre. Earlier media reports indicated the blast to be at a voter registration centre in the province.
No group has claimed responsibility for the incident so far.
Baghlan is one of the most restive provinces in northern Afghanistan bordering Kunduz that is a stronghold of the Taliban in the northern region of the war-torn country. -dpa