HERAT, Afghanistan: people kidnapped from a voter registration centre in a largely Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan were freed on Thursday, officials said.
Gunmen attacked the facility in the central province of Ghor on Tuesday, abducting three employees of the Independent Election Commission and two policemen.
Provincial police spokesman Iqbal Nizami blamed the Taliban for the attack — the first on a voter registration centre since the process began last Saturday.
Local elders negotiated with the Taliban for the release of the hostages, Nizami told AFP, adding “no ransom was paid”.
Provincial IEC chief Fazlullah Jalali confirmed the employees and police had been released.
Voter registration in the area will resume only after security officials give the green light, he said.
The attack underscored concerns about security in the lead-up to the war-torn country’s long-delayed legislative elections scheduled for October 20.
Afghanistan last weekend began registering voters as it seeks to ensure that the parliamentary and district council elections — which are a test-run for the presidential poll next year — are seen as credible and fraud-free.
In an operation that will last for two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres — an ambitious goal in a country where militants control or contest much of the territory.
President Ghani on Thursday urged religious leaders to use Friday prayers to encourage worshippers to register.
He also called on provincial governors to tell their employees to register themselves and family members.—AFP