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Afghan presidential front-runner Abdullah survives bomb attack

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-06

Two bombs exploded outside the Ariana Hotel in western Kabul where presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah was holding a rally, striking his car and killing a bodyguard along with five others, the interior ministry said Friday.

"Based on initial police information, six people were killed and 22 others were wounded in the attack," an interior ministry statement said.

"The first attack was a suicide car bomb on a convoy of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and the second was a mine attack," said Sayed Gul Agha Hashemi, the head of Kabul police's criminal investigation branch, in comments to AFP.

Abdullah earlier described the attack at a political rally shortly after escaping the blasts unharmed.

“When I was leaving the rally from the People’s Islamic Unity Party, my car was hit by a roadside bomb and damaged,” he told the rally in comments broadcast on Afghan television.

A longtime figure in Afghan politics and a former foreign minister, Abdullah emerged from Afghanistan's April 5 presidential election in the lead with 44.9 percent of the vote but fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a run-off.

He will face off against his main challenger, former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani, in a second round of voting on June 14.

Ghani condemned the attack on Twitter shortly after Abdullah's statement.

"This is the act of the enemies of Afghanistan to disrupt the democratic process in the country," Ghani said.

Face of struggle against hardliners

Abdullah was a former adviser to Afghan anti-Taliban resistance hero Ahmad Shah Massoud, a Tajik warlord, who was slain by al Qaeda militants just days before the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. 

During Afghanistan's anti-Taliban struggle, Abdullah, as Massoud’s spokesman, was often seen as the face of the Afghan struggle against the hardline Pashtun movement. Abdullah is of mixed Pashtun and Tajik heritage.

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 in late May, Abdullah called for a “responsible” US exit strategy from the country. He was speaking shortly after US President Barack Obama announced plans to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan after NATO's planned withdrawal at the end of this year.

Abdullah also said that while negotiations with the Taliban should continue, Afghanistan must stand ready to ensure security for its people if the talks fail.

“The door to talks and negotiations should be open,” Abdullah said. “At the same time, we have to assure our people that we are going to defend our people against violence. So we'll take the issue of talks and negotiations very seriously. At the same time, the country should be prepared. If the negotiations do not work, of course, we will have to defend our people, their lives, their rights.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP and AP)

 

Date created : 2014-06-06

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