Afghan police stand guard at a checkpoint ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 20, at the Independent Election Commission compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Bomb kills Afghan candidate as Taliban vow to attack polls

October 17, 2018 - 7:15 am

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — 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 centers. 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 30-day campaign period started. Two candidates have been abducted, their fates unknown, and three others have been wounded in violence.

The Taliban oppose democratic elections, viewing them as an imposition by foreign powers. The group has been fighting Afghan and NATO forces for more than 17 years in hopes of restoring its brand of harsh Islamic rule.

In recent years, the Taliban and also the Islamic State group have carried out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting the Afghan government and security forces. The insurgents have seized control of several districts across the country.

Early on Wednesday, the Taliban attacked checkpoints in the northern Baghlan province, killing six policemen and wounding two others in a four-hour battle, according to provincial police chief Gen. Ekramuddin Sarih. He said around 10 insurgents were killed. There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.

Also, in eastern Maidan Wardak province, a suicide car bomber targeted a military vehicle, killing two army troops, said Hekmat Durani, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

Durani said that Abdul Razeq, the commander of an army battalion, was wounded in Wednesday's attack in Chek district. He said that the commander was inspecting an ongoing operation when his vehicle was targeted by a suicide car bomber.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban are also active in the province.

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Associated Press writer Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report.

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