Nine killed in Afghanistan

Published September 5, 2005

KANDAHAR, Sept 4: A candidate in Afghanistan’s Sept 18 elections was killed on Sunday when he stepped on a landmine outside his home, the second candidate to die violently in two days, police said.

Five policemen and three rebels were also killed in a clash in another part of the troubled southern province of Helmand, the latest spate of violence ahead of the polls.

Security is the main worry two weeks before the country elects a lower house of parliament and councils in its 34 provinces, the next big step on its difficult path to stability following the 2001 US invasion that ousted the Taliban government.

Candidate Habibullah Jan was killed by the Taliban, provincial chief Abdul Rahman said.

“He was wounded by a mine planted outside his house and taken to hospital where he died,” he said.

A Taliban spokesman was not available for comment.

A spokesman for the insurgents said last month they would not attack polling stations on voting day but they say they are attacking candidates.

Six election candidates have been killed. The joint UN-Afghan election commission says it does not regard all of the killings as attacks on the vote.

Most of the fighting against the Taliban is confined to remote parts of the south and east although security is a problem in other areas as well.

Of the more than 1,000 people killed this year, most have been insurgents but the toll includes 49 American soldiers. It has been the bloodiest period since US-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001.—Reuters

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