Afghan election candidate among 4 killed in bomb attack

Published October 17, 2018
In this photo taken on October 15, an Afghan supporter of candidate Alhaj Amir Gull Shaheen rides a bicycle with a trailer carrying his image along a street during the legislative election campaign in Kabul. — AFP
In this photo taken on October 15, an Afghan supporter of candidate Alhaj Amir Gull Shaheen rides a bicycle with a trailer carrying his image along a street during the legislative election campaign in Kabul. — AFP

A bomb placed under a sofa killed four Afghans including an election candidate on Wednesday, officials said, as deadly violence escalates ahead of the October 20 parliamentary ballot.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which takes the number of candidates killed so far during the campaign season to at least 10.

Abdul Jabar Qahraman had been meeting with supporters in his campaign office in the southern province of Helmand — a Taliban stronghold — when a bomb hidden under a sofa exploded, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zhwak told AFP.

Qahraman was among four people killed by the blast in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak told reporters.

Another seven were wounded and three suspects have been arrested, he added.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack on Qahraman, who he had sent to Helmand in 2016 as an envoy to help defeat the Taliban. Qahraman later resigned.

In other poll-related violence, gunmen ambushed a candidate's convoy in Logar province, near Kabul, on Wednesday, provincial governor spokesman Shamshad Laraway said.

Later an improvised explosive device blew up near the campaign rally of another candidate in the Logar provincial capital Pule Alam, Laraway said.

There were no casualties in either attack.

Official campaigning for the ballot ends at midnight on Wednesday.

Most of the 10 candidates who have died in the lead-up to the election were murdered in targeted killings.

Qahraman was the second candidate killed in Lashkar Gah this month, after Saleh Mohammad Asikzai was among eight people killed in a suicide attack last week.

That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to withdraw from the parliamentary election, which the group has vowed to attack.

The Taliban issued a fresh warning on Wednesday calling on "educational workers" to stop schools being turned into polling centres and prevent teachers and students from participating as election workers.

Violence has increased ahead of the long-delayed vote, with hundreds of people killed or wounded in poll-related attacks across the country.

Preparations for the ballot have been in shambles and with days to go, organisers are still struggling to distribute voting materials to more than 5,000 polling centres.

The election for parliament's lower house is seen as a dry run for the presidential vote scheduled for April and organisers have said it would not be delayed any further.

It also is seen as a key milestone ahead of a United Nations meeting in Geneva in November, where Afghanistan will be under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes".

Almost nine million people have registered to vote, but observers expect far fewer to turn out due to the threat of militant attacks and expectations of widespread fraud.

More than 50,000 members of Afghanistan's already overstretched security forces are being deployed to protect polling centres on election day.

Opinion

Editorial

Beyond the pale
Updated 09 Aug, 2022

Beyond the pale

When such ugliness is unleashed, everyone at some point suffers the fallout.
Burying Gaza
Updated 10 Aug, 2022

Burying Gaza

One fails to understand how the senseless killing of a child can be brushed so coldly under the carpet.
Celebrate the athlete
09 Aug, 2022

Celebrate the athlete

TALK about delivering on your promise: javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did that in the grandest style at the...
An unseemly dispute
08 Aug, 2022

An unseemly dispute

THERE is clarity, but perhaps not of the kind that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial hoped to achieve when...
Unfair on taxpayers
Updated 08 Aug, 2022

Unfair on taxpayers

Unfair move has drawn valid criticism as it coincides with drastic increase in income tax on salaried people and corporates.
Polio nightmare
08 Aug, 2022

Polio nightmare

AS if the resurgence of polio in southern KP were not enough, officials and international monitoring bodies must now...