Blasts target Afghan presidential candidate's convoy

Abdullah Abdullah escaped assassination when two bombs blew up outside a hotel where he had just staged a rally, killing six people

Blasts target Afghan presidential candidate's convoy

World Bulletin/News Desk

Abdullah Abdullah, front-runner in Afghanistan's presidential election, escaped assassination on Friday when two bombs blew up outside a hotel where he had just staged a rally, killing six people.

The midday blasts, one caused by a bomber, destroyed a car in Abdullah's convoy, police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said. One of the dead was a bodyguard. Twenty-two people were injured.

Television images showed the charred remains of the car alongside shattered shop fronts in a densely populated western district of Kabul.

"When I was leaving the rally from the People's Islamic Unity Party, our car was hit by a roadside bomb and destroyed," Abdullah said at another rally soon afterwards.

Abdullah, a former leader of the opposition to Taliban, came first in the largely peaceful first round of the poll to replace Hamid Karzai, winning 45 percent of the vote.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani scored 31.6 percent and the run-off between the two leaders is set for June 14.

It was the most serious attempt on Abdullah's life since the start of the presidential race and the first such attack close to a rally. In February, he survived an assault on his convoy as he was travelling between the capital and the eastern city of Jalalabad.

By law, the elections must start again from scratch if one of the candidates is killed. Such an event could place the country in an extremely difficult position just months before the pullout at the end of the year of most foreign forces.

The election's first round won praise as an unexpected success. But the run-off is likely to prove more difficult as the Taliban summer offensive will be in full swing.

It was unclear whether the attack near the rally represented a change in tactics following the removal of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Qayoum from the group's military leadership.

 

Last Mod: 06 Haziran 2014, 15:35
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