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Election center attacked in Afghanistan, five people abducted

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The photo, taken on April 14, 2018, shows an Afghan employee of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) registering a resident at a voter registration center for the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections in Herat. (Photo by AFP)

Five people have been abducted when armed men attacked a voter registration center in Afghanistan, and set fire to documents.

Officials said Wednesday that the assault was carried out in the central province of Ghor on Tuesday.

Provincial police spokesman Mohammad Iqbal Nizami said the gunmen stormed the center in Aliyar district as Independent Election Commission (IEC) staff were registering voters.

The official blamed the Taliban militant group for the attack, noting that the militants abducted three IEC staff and two policemen tasked with protecting the center. "They also set all the voter registration materials on fire," Nizami said. "We are investigating and have launched a search operation."

Ghor governor spokesman Abdul Hai Khatibi acknowledged the incident, saying that tribal leaders and elders were in talks with the local Taliban to free the abductees.

Last weekend, Afghanistan began registering voters for the long-delayed legislative elections that are scheduled for October.

According to Abdul Badie Sayad, chairman of the IEC, authorities will register as many as 14 million adults at more than 7,000 registration centers across the war-torn country over the next two months. The official said that "insecurity, particularly in rural areas," will be "the main challenge."

The October 20 polls were originally set to be held in 2015 following presidential elections the previous year, but were repeatedly postponed due to security fears and logistical problems.

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