Afghan attacks target voting centers
Insurgent attacks on voter registration centers in Kabul, Afghanistan, have killed and injured at least 271 people since April in an “assault on democracy,” the United Nations mission in the country said last week.
The attacks come as the country prepares for parliamentary elections in October. The UN revealed in a report that 75 percent of the attacks in Kabul, the country’s capital, since April 14 have targeted schools and mosques where voters gathered to register. The UN mission said it verified 23 election-related security attacks, the deadliest on April 22, when at least 57 people died and 100 others sustained injuries in a suicide explosion that targeted a national identity card distribution center.
The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
“Those who are registering to vote have my utmost respect,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan. “They are exercising their constitutional right and putting hope for Afghanistan’s future above concerns about their personal safety.” —O.O
Burundi referendum sparks more unrest
At least 26 people died in an attack in Burundi ahead of a controversial referendum that could see the country’s president extend his tenure to 2034.
Security Minister Alain Guillaume told reporters the attackers wounded seven others in the Friday night incident that targeted the Ruhagarika community in the northwestern Cibitoke province. Authorities did not confirm whether the attack had political motives, but it comes amid an increasingly tense political environment.
In 2015, Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza pursued and eventually won an unconstitutional third term. Sporadic violence since then has killed about 1,200 people and more than 400,000 others have fled the country, according to the United Nations. Now the government is asking Burundians to vote in a referendum on whether to extend the president’s tenure for 14 years when his term expires in 2020. Earlier this month, the United States condemned “violence, intimidation, and harassment” against those who oppose the referendum and expressed concern over the “non-transparent process.” —O.O
Experts blame pilot for missing Malaysian flight
A panel of aviation experts this week said they believe the 2014 disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Fight 370 was deliberate.
The five international experts who appeared on the 60 Minutes Australia TV program on Sunday said they believe veteran pilot Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah staged the March 2014 crash, killing all 239 people on board. One expert, Boeing 777 pilot and instructor Simon Hardy, used data from military radar to reconstruct the flight plan and said Shah deliberately flew in and out of Malaysin and Thai airspace to avoid detection. The experts also said they believe someone piloted the flight to the end, contradicting previous claims the plane crashed with no one in control. “This was a mission by one of the crew to hide the aircraft as far away from civilization as possible,” Hardy said, “which puts us way outside the search area that is currently being done.”
Investigators are still searching for the plane, which disappeared on its way to Beijing, China. —O.O