At least six people have been killed after a pair of explosions struck the convoy of Afghan presidential frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah.
At least 22 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred shortly after Abdullah left a campaign event in Kabul on Friday. Security officials say at least one of the blasts involved a suicide bomber. Abdullah was not injured, but in a televised statement shortly after the attack he said that two of his bodyguards were wounded.
- Received 45 percent of vote in first round of presidential election on April 5
- Served as Hamid Karzai's foreign minister
- Ran for president in 2009
- Trained as an eye doctor
- Father is Pashtun, mother is Tajik
According to Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Siddiqui, the attack occurred "in the vicinity of a campaign rally." "The [rally] was over and they were out on the way, they came under the attack by a terrorist, a suicide bomber,” he said.
A second bomb went off near the car, Siddiqui added, saying the explosions left six civilians dead and 22 wounded.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombings, for which no one immediately claimed responsibility.
Taliban militants have recently ramped up attacks in an effort to disrupt the upcoming June 14 runoff election. The militant group recently issued a statement vowing more attacks aimed at disrupting the vote, which is taking place because there was no clear winner in the April 5 election.
Abdullah, a former foreign minister who received 45 percent of the vote in April, said he and other political figures traveling with him escaped injury, but that several of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
Abdullah, who has a history of opposing the Taliban, lashed out at those behind the attack.
"If they place a bomb somewhere, they are the enemies of the Afghan people," he said. "Those who kill people and create violence and launch rocket attacks, suicide attacks, and kill innocent Afghan people, they do not have a future in this country."
The bombings come just a week before Afghans choose whether Abdullah or former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani will be the next president.
Despite a strong turnout in the first round of voting in April, no candidate won enough votes to be declared the outright winner. President Karzai is constitutionally banned from seeking a third term.
Former Afghan ambassador Omar Samad, speaking from Washington, told VOA there are no legal steps in place in case of the death of a candidate, and an assassination could lead to political chaos.
“If a candidate is targeted and assassinated, then in the Afghan case, it becomes problematic," he said. "Especially under today’s condition when you have a run-off, it could lead to a chaotic ... crisis.”
But Samad added that the positive voter turnout in the first round indicated that Afghans had rejected the Taliban’s policy of violence. He expects an equally strong turnout on June 14.
Some information for this report comes from AP and AFP.