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KABUL: A Taliban bombing in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province killed a candidate running in the parliamentary elections this weekend, a provincial official said, as attacks elsewhere in the country killed six policemen and two soldiers.

The attacks came as the Taliban warned teachers and students not to participate in the vote and not to allow schools to be used as polling centres. The insurgents said in a statement that they will target Saturday’s elections, which they view as illegitimate, but that they do not want to harm civilians.

The blast in Helmand went off inside the campaign office of Abdul Jabar Qahraman, killing him and wounding seven people, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The bomb appeared to have been hidden in a sofa, Zwak said. The Taliban promptly claimed responsibility for killing Qahraman.

Qahraman had served as a general during the Soviet-backed the communist regime in Afghanistan in 1980s and was also a former lawmaker. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had previously given him the task to secure Helmand but he later stepped down as regional security adviser.

Militant attacks have killed six other candidates, both before and after the 20-day campaign period started. Two candidates have been abducted, their fates unknown, and three others have been wounded in violence.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2018