Sun, Jun 27, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Bomb kills Afghan vote workers

INTIMIDATION Two women and a child, riding a bus carrying workers who planned to register women to vote, were killed in a bombing that the Taliban later claimed


A bomb explosion hit a bus carrying Afghan women election workers in eastern Afghanistan yesterday, UN and Afghan officials said, killing at least three people in the bloodiest attack yet on preparations for the country's first post-Taliban vote.

A purported spokesman for the Taliban, which has vowed to sabotage the September election, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The explosion occurred at about 8am, when the locally hired bus was on the outskirts of the city of Jalalabad, 120km east of the capital, Kabul, UN spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

"At least three were killed and three or four seriously injured," Almeida e Silva said. He didn't give details.

Faizan, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, which surrounds Jalalabad, said the dead were two women and one child and that at least 10 injured people were being treated in local hospitals. Many Afghans use only one name.

General Abdul Malik Malikzai, a senior security official, blamed Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents for the attack, the latest in a string of bombings and shootings targeting election workers in the lead-up to the polls.

"This is obvious that Taliban and al-Qaeda carry out bombings and explosions. They are enemies of this country," he said, without giving evidence to support his claim.

Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager, a spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan, said a homemade bomb had exploded near the vehicle, causing casualties, but he had no more details.

Abdul Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said that the bomb was detonated by remote control, and threatened more violence.

"The Taliban carried out this attack. We will not forgive any man or woman who is supporting US policies. We will continue this kind of attack to make sure the elections fail," he said in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

The UN said the women were headed to Rodat district, east of Jalalabad, to register female voters.

More than one-third of the 4.5 million people signed up so far for the vote are women, about one-half the estimated total of eligible Afghans but well on the way to the 6 million that President Hamid Karzai says would be enough to make the vote legitimate.

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