19 dead, 170 injured after multiple blasts rock Kabul in election day violence

Afghan security personnel stand guard on the day of the parliamentary election in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (AP/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 20 October 2018
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19 dead, 170 injured after multiple blasts rock Kabul in election day violence

  • Around 70,000 security forces have been deployed to protect polling centers across the war-torn country
  • Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi confirmed another two explosions near polling centers

KABUL: A suicide bomber blew himself up in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least 15 people as voting concluded in parliamentary elections that were overshadowed by the threat of attacks and serious organizational problems.

Voting should have been concluded by the time the attacker struck in an area to the north of Kabul, but polling stations were kept open longer than normal to cope with large numbers of people who had been unable to vote.

Ten civilians and five police officers were killed when the bomber tried to enter a polling station and more than 25 were wounded, a senior security official said.

The attack appeared to have been the most serious of a day marked by a series of smaller-scale incidents that caused dozens of casualties across the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

More than 130 Afghans have been wounded in the violence, officials said. Most of the casualties were in Kabul, acting health ministry spokesman Mohibullah Zeer said, after the Taliban warned voters to boycott the ballot "to protect their lives".

Taliban militants have issued a series of statements telling people not to take part in what they consider a foreign-imposed process and warning election centres may be attacked.

Wider election concerns have centred on technical and organisational problems with biometric voter-registration equipment, polling stations not opening on time, missing election materials and delays forcing lengthy waits.

The Independent Election Commission (IEC), the body overseeing the ballot, said voting hours would be extended in some centres to cope with demand and some polling stations, which had not opened at all, would be open on Sunday.


Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

Updated 12 November 2018
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Two Australian WWI soldiers laid to rest in France

  • Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt
  • The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015

BUISSY: Two Australian soldiers, killed over 100 years ago during World War I, were finally laid to rest in northern France on Monday as relatives stood by.
“He’s not an unknown soldier anymore, we know where he is,” said Robert MacBeth, 36, from Ballan, in Australia’s Victoria state, speaking of his great grandfather.
Private Hedley Roy MacBeth, aged 31, and acting corporal James Leonard Rolls, aged 23, were killed in May 1917 during the second battle of Bullecourt.
British and Australian troops managed to push back German lines during a week-long offensive which left 7,000 dead in the allied ranks.
“We are very happy, it’s very emotional that we’re finally burying him with full military honors and that he has been put safely to rest here in France,” Irene Darby, Rolls’ great niece, told AFP at the ceremony led by Australia’s Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at the Quéant Road Cemetery, near Buissy.
The bodies of the two soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force’s 24th infantry battalion were discovered by a disused railway track on May 23 May, 2015.
They were formally identified in August this year thanks to DNA testing of their relatives.
The two men were in a trench near the railway line when an artillery shell exploded nearby, according to army archives.
They will now rest alongside some 2,400 Commonwealth and German soldiers in the cemetery run by the Commonwealth war graves commission.
“The family always knew about James, he was spoken about at every Anzac Day,” Darby said.
“We can now say we found him and we can come and visit him now, we know where he is,” she added.
Almost 62,000 Australian soldiers were killed during WWI.
Historians believe the bodies of 700,000 of the 3.5 million soldiers killed on the Western Front are still missing.