LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Elections in Afghanistan are scheduled for October after a three-year delay amid concerns about voter fraud and poor security. And at least one of those concerns has proven valid today. Dozens are dead in two attacks near voter registration centers. We'll turn now to NPR's Diaa Hadid in Islamabad. Hi, Diaa.
DIAA HADID, BYLINE: Hi there.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let's start with these upcoming elections. Tell us about them.
HADID: Right. So these elections - they're parliamentary elections. And they're seen as a test run for the more important presidential elections that will be happening in 2019. And these elections are really to test out whether the government and its Western backers can overcome these enormous security hurdles and to resolve any problems related to voter fraud. And the process was looking pretty positive. Local media had reported that tens of thousands of people were turning up to register themselves. And there were even complaints that there weren't enough registration centers. And that shows care and concern about the process. But a bombing like this in Kabul can really undermine all of that. And that would be a blow to the legitimacy of the Afghan government and its Western backers if this vote has to be delayed again.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell us about these attacks. What happened today?
HADID: Pretty gruesome - the worst attack was in Kabul. And that's where a suicide bomber targeted people who were standing in a line to collect their ID cards, which they need to register to vote. He killed at least 48 people - men, women and children. And that death toll might rise even further. The images posted after the attack were harrowing. Women were lying on the ground. They were just sprawled there. And men were captured just running with bleeding children. Somebody had even lined up the shoes of the victims, presumably for their families to collect them later. There was also an attack in northern Afghanistan. Six members of a family were killed when their car hit a roadside bomb. And that bomb was also located near a registration center as well.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So this is violence that's meant to undermine Afghan democracy.
HADID: It's at least indirectly doing that because during a process of elections in a country like Afghanistan, people just turn out in numbers. And that makes them vulnerable to attack. And that's particularly true of minorities like Shiites who were targeted today in this attack in Kabul. And so even if these insurgents aren't trying to directly undermine the elections, they're certainly doing so by keeping people away from the process itself. And the international community does see this as undermining the elections. The United Nations today issued a statement condemning these attacks. And they referred to these attacks as appearing to deliberately target the election process.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Do we know who's behind them?
HADID: ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul. It's unclear so far who's claimed responsibility for the attack in northern Afghanistan.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's Diaa Hadid. Thank you so much.
HADID: Thank you, Lulu.