Blast kills prominent Afghan politician in Helmand

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – A leading Afghan politician and former presidential adviser on military affairs was killed in a Taliban-claimed explosion in Helmand province on Wednesday, an official said.

Authorities in Helmand confirmed Abdul Jabbar Qaharmaan, a prominent candidate for the forthcoming Wolesi Jirga (lower house), got killed in a blast caused by explosives hidden under a chair in his electoral office in provincial capital Lashkargah city.

Umar Zwak, spokesman for the governor of Helmand, told Anadolu Agency the blast took place at around 09.00 a.m. local time (0400GMT). Qaharmaan along with three other people succumbed to their wounds while eight more people got injured in this incident, he added.

Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack and pronounced Qaharmaan as “a true and brave patriot.”

Ghani also directed relevant authorities to launch investigations into the attack.

Last week, at least 22 people were killed and more than 30 others wounded in a blast at an electoral rally in Takhar province.

On Oct. 9, another candidate for the forthcoming elections and eight of his supporters got killed in a suicide attack in southern Helmand province, while 13 people were killed and more than 20 wounded in a similar attack in Nangarhar province on Oct. 2.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed its concern around the level of violence early in the campaigning period for the elections, including intimidation and attacks against candidates, their agents and supporters.

Afghans are set to go to the long-due parliamentary elections on Oct. 20. Currently, nationwide campaign for the polls is underway with the candidates holding political rallies amid grim security concerns.