Wed, Jul 09, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Afghan suicide attack kills at least 16

POLL CRISIS:The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in the midst of a crisis after general elections, as no winner could be declared yet due to electoral fraud

AP and AFP, KABUL

An Afghan official says that at least 16 people, including four foreign soldiers, were killed yesterday in a suicide attack near a clinic in eastern Afghanistan.

The international coalition said that four of its service members were killed in the attack, but did not disclose any further details, including their nationalities.

Wahid Seddiqi, spokesman for the provincial governor of Parwan Province, said the soldiers, at least 10 civilians and two police officers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked Afghan and foreign forces near Charakar, the provincial capital.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media.

The violence came as Afghanistan is mired in an electoral crisis after one of the candidates in the presidential elections, Abdullah Abdullah, refused to accept any results until millions of ballots are audited for fraud.

Afghan officials released preliminary election results on Monday showing former Afghan minister of finance Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency, but said no winner could be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.

The announcement came as Ahmadzai was locked in a standoff with Abdullah, who has refused to accept any results until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated. A spokesman for his campaign rejected the results and called the decision to release them “a coup.”

The Independent Election Commission (IEC) acknowledged that vote-rigging had occurred and said ballots from about 7,000 more of the nearly 23,000 polling stations would be audited.

“We cannot deny fraud and violations in the process,” commission head Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani told reporters. “In some cases some security forces were involved, in other cases senior government officials like governors or lower-level officials were involved.”

Nuristani said that the results would now be subject to auditing and adjudication of complaints, before the official result are released on about July 24.

“The preliminary result in no way means the announcement of the winner of the election,” he said.

“A change in the result is possible,” he added.

“The announcement of results was a coup against the will of the people,” said Mujib Rahman Rahimi, a spokesman for Abdullah. “We don’t recognize the result and we have cut off all contact with the IEC and Ghani’s team.”

In contrast, Ghani welcomed the announcement, with campaign spokeswoman Azita Rafat saying: “We worked hard and saw the result, but we don’t want to prejudge the final results.”

The results showed that Ghani had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent, according to the commission. Turnout was more than 50 percent, commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry warned yesterday that any attempt to seize power in Afghanistan would cost the country its international aid, after preliminary results of presidential elections sparked a row between the two candidates.

In a statement, Kerry said: “I have noted reports of protests in Afghanistan and of suggestions of a ‘parallel government’ with the gravest concern. The United States expects Afghan electoral institutions to conduct a full and thorough review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities.”

“Any action to take power by extra-legal means will cost Afghanistan the financial and security support of the United States and the international community,” he added.

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