The bodies of five campaign workers who had been working for a woman parliament candidate in Afghanistan’s Herat province were found over the weekend. The workers had been campaigning for incumbent Fauzia Galani, who is one of the few women candidates in the upcoming September elections. According to the BBC, the murdered workers were part of a group of 10 campaign workers that had been kidnapped last week. Five of the kidnapped people were later released. The Taliban has publicly claimed responsibility for the abductions, but not the killings.
The execution of Galani’s campaign workers is one of many recent acts of election-related violence. Other recent incidents include the murder of candidate Haji Abdul Manan, who was gunned down as he walked near his home in Herat province on Saturday, according to Reuters. The United Nations has reported that three other candidates were killed by unknown assailants earlier this month.
The parliamentary elections are planned for September 18. There are about 2,500 candidates, 385 of whom are women, running for the 249 seats in the lower house. Sixty-five of the seats are reserved for women. According to Reuters, officials have already announced that more than 900 of 6,835 polling locations will not open due to security issues. In last year’s presidential elections, women were unable to vote in some parts of Afghanistan and women’s voting cards were used to stuff ballot boxes in some polling locations. In some areas that are not controlled by the Taliban, women accounted for nearly 60 percent of voters. Women’s participation last year was particularly low in Taliban controlled southern regions and in places where segregated women-only polling places did not open due to lack of staff.