Taliban warns teachers to snub polls

Afghanistan will hold presidential elections in 10 days time, which the Taliban is opposing.
Afghanistan will hold presidential elections in 10 days time, which the Taliban is opposing.

Afghanistan's Taliban insurgent group has warned teachers, students and other education workers to avoid the upcoming presidential vote or risk dying in attacks on election centres.

"Do not allow election organisers to turn your schools and institutions into electoral centres, and teachers and students should not work as electoral staff," said the Taliban statement.

"We do not want to cause the loss of lives and financial losses for civilians, teachers and students," it said.

Afghanistan will hold in 10 days its fourth presidential election since United States-led forces toppled the hardline Islamist Taliban from power in 2001.

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

Schools and universities make up between seven and eight out of every ten polling centres across the country, and though no students, teachers or education officials are being hired as election workers, they can volunteer, said Abdul Aziz Ibrahimi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's election commission.

"We are committed to holding elections on the announced date, and such threats from the Taliban cannot prevent us from holding them," the spokesman said.

On Tuesday, Taliban attackers killed nearly 50 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.

The group has vowed to intensify clashes with Afghan and foreign forces to dissuade people from voting in the upcoming elections.

Australian Associated Press