A motorcycle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an election rally killed at least 22 people and wounded some 36 others in Rustaq district (Takhar province) on Saturday, October 13. Though no militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, Taliban militants are active in the area and have threatened to carry out attacks to disrupt the upcoming October 20 parliamentary elections.
Similar attacks on election-related events and polling places are possible in the coming days around the vote. A heightened security presence and traffic disruptions are to be anticipated around all election-related events, protests, and polling stations.
The Taliban and Islamic State (IS) have vowed to disrupt the October 20 parliamentary vote by carrying out attacks. On October 8, the Taliban released a statement contesting the legitimacy of the upcoming elections and denouncing the continued presence of "foreign occupiers." They called on their supporters to boycott the elections and to undermine the electoral process by perpetrating attacks against security infrastructure in the lead up to the elections. The militant groups have carried out multiple attacks in the run-up to the elections and have killed several candidates.
The parliamentary elections were initially scheduled to be held over three years ago but have been repeatedly delayed due to ongoing security concerns. The presidential election is currently scheduled to take place on April 20, 2019.
Individuals in Takhar province and elsewhere in Afghanistan are advised to monitor the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Afghanistan remains complex. Although travel is possible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel.
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