In a tragic day for Afghanistan, an Islamic State (IS) suicide bomber killed at least 61 people including women and children and wounded 112 outside a voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul on Sunday, in yet another attack that targets the country’s election preparations.

Every single time a human life is lost to senseless violence it’s a day of mourning, but yesterday’s attack is especially condemnable. It targeted innocent civilians who were bravely taking part in the fragile democratic process in the country – the majority of the victims were women and children.

With this attack it has become clear that Afghanistan’s biggest threat – in terms of brazen and heinous attacks on civilian populations – is the IS and not the Taliban anymore. The last major attack in Kabul was on March 2, which was also carried out by an IS suicide bomber who blew himself up in a crowd celebrating the Persian New Year holiday and killed at least 33 people.

The group, which is being squeezed out of the Middle East slowly but surely, is finding space to operate in Afghanistan’s restive and remote areas. Considering that the international community is focused on getting out of Afghanistan rather than sticking around to solve its evolving security dilemmas, it is difficult to see this new development being effectively tackled. The Afghan government – busy grappling with the Taliban and securing a peace deal with the group – has been blindsided by this recent uptick in violence and it will take them some time to effectively recalibrate themselves again to this threat.

These recurring attacks, and more specifically their targets, are another problem for the Afghan government considering the coming elections. Afghanistan began registering voters on April 14 for the long-delayed legislative elections. Over the next two months, authorities hope to register up to 14 million adults at more than 7,000 polling centres for the parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for October 20 –which are seen as a test-run for next year’s presidential poll.

How much will such attacks targeting voter registration centers, and presumably polling stations on Election Day, affect the outcome of the elections? Given that large swathes of the country is already in the control of militants if the space for democracy is shrunk in what little land the Afghan government exert control over then the democratic exercise will be carried out in name only.