Afghanistan: Candidate, 9 more slain at campaign rally

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – A candidate for this month’s Afghan parliamentary elections and eight of his supporters were killed in a suicide attack at a public rally, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

Umar Zwak, spokesman for the Helmand province’s governor, told Anadolu Agency the incident took place in the provincial capital, Lashkargah, where Wolesi Jirga (lower house) candidate Saleh Mohammad Achakzai was holding the rally. In addition to the nine casualties, more than 10 people were wounded, he added.

This was the first attempt of Achakzai, a young entrepreneur, to run for parliament from this restive province of the country, the spokesman said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility. The Taliban have warned Afghans against taking part in the polls.

In a statement, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack, saying Afghans would not allow the terrorists to undermine the democratic process.

Last week, 13 people were killed and more than 20 wounded in a similar attack in the Nangarhar province.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed concern about the level of violence in the campaigning for the Oct. 20 parliamentary polls, including intimidation and attacks on candidates, their agents, and supporters.

Nationwide campaigning for the polls is underway, with candidates holding political rallies amid grim security concerns.