Deadly pre-poll attack hits Kabul

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Deadly pre-poll attack hits Kabul
Tue, 08-18-2009 - 1:04pm

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A suicide car bomber has killed seven people in an attack on a convoy of Western troops in the Afghan capital.

More than 50 people were wounded in the blast, which comes amid raised security in Kabul for Thursday's election.

The Nato-led force said reports indicated some of its troops were among those killed and injured, while the UN said two of its employees were killed.

A few hours earlier, a rocket was fired into the presidential compound in Kabul; no-one was reported injured.

In the east of the country, meanwhile, two US soldiers died in a roadside bomb attack, the American military said.

And in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, in Uruzgan province, three Afghan soldiers died when a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up at a checkpoint.

I saw wounded people and dead people everywhere

Kabul shopkeeper

President Hamid Karzai is tipped to be re-elected president on Thursday, although correspondents say he is facing a strong challenge from ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. Several dozen candidates are in the race.

The BBC's Hugh Sykes, in Kabul, says the bombings are likely to make people nervous about going to cast their ballot.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul suicide blast, which targeted a convoy of foreign troops near a bustling market on the busy Jalalabad road.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw British soldiers, who were securing the site, collecting what appeared to be body parts from the roof of an Afghan home.

British troops at the site of a suicide car bomb in Kabul on 18 August 2009
Two Afghan UN staff were believed killed in the attack

"I saw wounded people and dead people everywhere," a shopkeeper named Sawad told Reuters news agency.

The explosion sent a huge plume of black smoke into the sky, but Kabul's daily routine was barely affected, says our correspondent.

Two Afghan UN staff are believed to have died in the attack.

"I am shocked and greatly saddened to have learned that two of my staff members were among those killed in today's suicide bombing," UN special representative Kai Eide said in a statement.

The latest violence comes as a BBC investigation found evidence of electoral fraud and corruption ahead of the presidential election.

Thousands of voting cards have been up for sale and thousands of dollars have been offered in bribes to buy votes.

The Afghan Independent Election Commission that is overseeing the ballot has been accused of not doing enough to prevent abuses.

Thursday's vote will be Afghanistan's second presidential election since the US-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime.

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