72,000 soldiers deployed for Afghan presidential election

72,000 soldiers deployed for Afghan presidential election

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Afganistan has planned to deploy 72,000 soldiers to ensure a smooth presidential election on Saturday amid increased violence in the war-torn country. (Xinhua/Rahmatullah Alizadah/IANS)
Kabul, Sep 24 (IANS) Afganistan has planned to deploy 72,000 soldiers to ensure a smooth presidential election on Saturday amid increased violence in the war-torn country.
Of the 72,000 soldiers, 140 of them are tasked to secure Nangarhar's Surkhrod district as part of a nationwide security plan for the voting in which 9.6 million Afghans, 34.5 per cent of them women, will be eligible to vote.
The 140 soldiers, who belong to the 201 Army Selab Corps, are aerially supported by the US and Afghan forces, Efe news reported.
Small firearms like rockets, grenades and improvised explosive devices were the Taliban's main weaponry to disrupt previous Afghan elections.
Interior Ministry spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi told reporters earlier that the operation in the province was part of a "well-managed and comprehensive" national security plan against militant threats and ensure voter safety.
Apart from 72,000 security personnel fanned across the country, he said, another 30,000 troops will be on standby to respond to any imminent Taliban attack.
"On election day, all these forces will be on high alert to ensure poll security," Rahimi said.
Some 18 candidates are in the fray. President Ashraf Ghani is seeking a second term in office and the other major contenders include Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
The government has vowed to ensure security in areas under its control. But due to the Taliban threats, the country's Independent Election Commission (IEC) will hold election only in 4,942 out of the total 7,385 polling centres.
Of these, 675 voting centres have been designated highly sensitive from a security point of view while as 907 face low-security threats. Some 3,360 have been declared fully secure for voting.
Voting will also not be held in areas under Taliban control.
The insurgent group controls or influences 50 of the 407 Afghan districts, according to the latest data provided by the Special Inspector General for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR) in January 2019.
Some 10.5 per cent of the country's 33 million people live in Taliban held districts.
A Taliban suicide bomber last week blew himself up in the first major attack on polls, targeting a campaign rally of President Ghani in Parwan province. The attack left 26 people, including 22 civilians, dead and another 35 wounded.
According to the UN special report, during last year's parliamentary elections held in October, the Taliban carried out 108 attacks against voters and polling centres on the election day.
--IANS
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