A suicide bombing in Afghanistan has killed a parliamentary candidate and nine of his supporters.
The attack came one day after Taliban rebels said they would use violence to interfere with national elections.
An Afghan government official told VOA that the bomber targeted an election campaign office in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand Province.
The official said the explosion injured at least 15 people. He identified the candidate as Saleh Hohammad Achakzai, who was seeking a seat in the lower house of parliament.
People who saw the attack said they expect the number of injured to rise. They said the office was crowded at the time of the explosion.
On Monday, the Taliban said it ordered resistance forces to stop the election process by carrying out attacks on Afghan officials. The group also told them to target security forces protecting voters and polling stations.
Taliban targets delayed elections
The Islamist rebels have denounced democratic processes as part of an American plot to lengthen, what they call, the “foreign occupation” of Afghanistan.
The Taliban also has called on Afghans to boycott the elections.
Election officials say more than 2,500 people, including over 400 women, have registered as candidates. They are competing for 249 seats in parliament’s lower house.
The elections have been delayed for more than three years because of security concerns and a lack of reforms.
Intimidation and attacks against candidates, their representatives and supporters have taken place as the country prepares for the vote later this month. More than 20 people have been killed and many others injured in election-related violence. Candidates, security guards and relatives of those seeking office have been among those targeted.
The attack on Tuesday took place in Helmand Province, which is Afghanistan’s largest province by area. Taliban rebels control much of Helmand, including areas surrounding the provincial capital.
The elections are set for October 20. The Afghan government plans to deploy 54,000 soldiers and policemen for protection around voting stations. Thousands of United States-led NATO forces also are expected to assist them.
On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan warned in a report that rebels are plotting suicide attacks targeting civilians. The U.N. group reported that attacks with explosives had killed 1,065 people and injured over 2,500 others between January 1 and September 30.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Ayaz Gul reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
polling - n. voting in an election
intimidation - n. making someone afraid