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Polling extends after delays, attacks during polls in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Oct 20 (KUNA) -- Voting in Afghanistan's long-awaited parliamentary elections on Saturday is extended after technical delays at polling stations and several deadly attacks in the country leaving several people dead and wounded.
Voting was extended by four hours at all polling stations and extended to one day in some constituencies after voters were unable to cast their ballots. Afghans expressed frustration over polling stations not opening on time and several other issues including technical glitches with biometric voter verification devices.
Some constituencies will remain open on Sunday, officials said, amid technical problems with a recently introduced biometric verification system. Long lines formed outside many polling stations across the country as glitches prevented them opening on time. The head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), Abdul Badi Sayad said the voting process will continue till October 21 in polling stations where election officers or election material arrived late.
Violence also marred the campaign and dozens of incidents have been reported on polling day, including blasts in Afghan capital city Kabul and mortar attack in southern Kunduz city.
At least three people were killed and more than 35 others wounded in Afghan capital Kabul after multiple explosions rocked polling centers in the city as voters were casting their ballots.
Interior Ministry Spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed another two explosions near polling centers. Moreover, at least two people were killed and 38 others wounded, including women and children, as at least 10 mortars were fired into the capital of northern Kunduz province on Saturday.
Zonal hospital in-charge, Murtazavi Yaftali told media that they had so far received two dead bodies and 38 injured people including women and children. He said the dead included one security man and the injured included 11 security personnel. Deputy provincial police chief, Col Safiullah Mehzon said 10 mortars were fired from different directions into Kunduz City.
According to local media, at least four policemen were killed in an explosion in central Ghor province. In eastern Nangarhar province, an explosion left at least two people dead and three injured, and in northern Takhar province, at least one person was killed and eight others injured when a rocket fired by Taliban hit a home, said reports.
The biometric devices have not led to quick voting as technical and organizational problems stopped voters from casting their ballots at a number of polling stations. The Independent Election Commission says most stations opened their doors late because teachers employed to supervise the voting process failed to turn up on time.
The results process will not be quick either as preliminary results are not expected until 20 days after the election. A deputy spokeswoman for IEC, Shaima Alam Soroush said that due to technical issues there had been delays in the opening of some of the voting sites and centers. Efforts were being made to resolve the problem.
The head of provincial council in Maidan Wardak province, Sharifullah Hotak, told media that the biometric system in voting centers was not working in the whole of the province. Hundreds of people were standing in line in Herat province as polling stations there also experienced technical issues.
The biometric voter verification devices are used for the first time in the country for electoral process to avoid electoral fraud. Hundreds of people were killed or wounded in the months leading up to the poll including the killing of a powerful police chief in the southern province of Kandahar that has delayed the polls in the province. During the three-week campaign period, two candidates and 34 civilians were killed in militant attacks. (Pick up previous) sbk.mt