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Stop elections or ‘die’ – Taliban warns Afghans

The Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan has threatened teachers, students and other education workers with death if they fail to block the upcoming presidential election.

 “Do not allow election organizers to turn your schools and institutions into electoral centers, and teachers and students should not work as electoral staff,” a Wednesday statement by the insurgent  group read.

On September 28, Afghanistan will hold its fourth presidential election since US-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime eighteen years ago.

The insurgents have vowed to violently disrupt the vote, which comes in the aftermath of collapsed peace talks between them and the US.

Schools and universities make up between seven and eight out of every ten polling centers across Afghanistan.

A spokesman for the elections commission told reporters on Wednesday that no such threats from the Taliban would prevent the country from holding the vote in ten days time.

Meanwhile, the United Nations and international donors have asked Afghanistan’s ministry of education to help with the upcoming elections because of its relatively developed infrastructure.

But on Tuesday, the Taliban killed nearly fifty people in separate suicide bombings, one targeting an election rally for incumbent President Ashraf Ghani, who is seeking a second five-year term.

Security across the country has been tight in the run-up to the vote, after threats by the Taliban to attack meetings and polling stations.

Early on Wednesday, Taliban negotiators called for the resumption of peace talks with the US. Until the negotiations broke down last week, the two sides had been discussing the possible withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban.

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