Friday, June 6, 2014

Abdullah Abdullah survives assassination attempt in Afghanistan on June 6 , 2014 , as Runoff vote looms on June 14 , 2014 --- A suicide car bomber and an attacker with a suicide vest detonated their explosives near a convoy carrying both Abdullah and Zalmai Rassoul — a former presidential candidate who trailed in the first round of voting but threw his support to Abdullah for the runoff — as they were leaving the event just after noon, campaign and security officials said. Six people were killed and more than 20 wounded, including several bodyguards and civilians, Afghan Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish said.

Al Jazeera....


Afghan presidential candidate survives blast

Abdullah Abdullah unhurt by attack in Kabul but at least four civilians are killed, interior ministry says.

Last updated: 06 Jun 2014 12:38
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Abdullah said he had not been harmed but that his security guards had been wounded [AP]
A suicide bomber and a roadside bomb have struck the convoy of Afghanistan's presidential candidate

Abdullah Abdullah as it left a campaign event in the capital Kabul, the Interior Ministry said.
Friday's explosions killed four civilians but left the candidate himself unharmed.

In a televised statement shortly after the attack, Abdullah said that several of his security guards had been wounded in the attack.

The interior ministry spokesman said the number of dead was likely to rise, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The assassination attempt on Abdullah came ahead of a second-round presidential election on June 14, which Taliban fighters have threatened to disrupt.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, the AFP news agency reported.

Afghanistan is in the middle of elections to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled since the fall of the country's Taliban government in 2001.

Abdullah fell short of the 50 percent threshold needed for an outright victory in the April first round and will face former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani in the run-off.

"We condemn the attack on respected presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah," Ghani said on Twitter.
US President Barack Obama recently outlined the US strategy to end the war in Afghanistan, saying the US presence in the country would be scaled back to around 9,800 troops by the start of 2015.

Those forces would be halved by the end of 2015 before eventually being reduced to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance component by the end of 2016.

The drawdown relies on Afghanistan signing a long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement laying out the terms of the US military presence in the country after this year.

The outgoing Karzai refuses to sign the pact, but both Afghan presidential candidates have vowed to sign it if elected.



Stars and Stripes .....


Afghan presidential candidate survives assassination attempt

KABUL — Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah survived a deadly suicide bombing outside a campaign rally in Kabul Friday, officials said, the kind of assassination attempt that has long worried Western officials.
A suicide car bomber and an attacker with a suicide vest detonated their explosives near a convoy carrying both Abdullah and Zalmai Rassoul — a former presidential candidate who trailed in the first round of voting but threw his support to Abdullah for the runoff — as they were leaving the event just after noon, campaign and security officials said.
Six people were killed and more than 20 wounded, including several bodyguards and civilians, Afghan Ministry of Interior spokesman Najib Danish said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban have vowed to disrupt the second round election. A Taliban spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Western officials have privately expressed deep concern about a presidential candidate being assassinated ahead of the June 14th runoff between Abdullah, a former foreign minister, and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. By Afghan law, the entire election process would start over, potentially delaying a transfer of power by months.
That could endanger a security agreement that would pave the way for a small contingent of foreign troops to stay in the country past the end of the year, when all foreign combat troops will have withdrawn.
“This has been the nightmare scenario all along, that an attack would kill a candidate and the clock would be set back to zero in the political transition at a really difficult time,” said Graeme Smith, the International Crisis Group’s senior analyst in Afghanistan.
This election would mark the first democratic transfer of power in the country’s history. Karzai, the only president the country has had since the U.S. ousted the ruling Taliban in 2001, is barred by Afghanistan’s constitution from running for re-election.
Many Western nations as well as aid groups are closely monitoring the election, which is taking place as foreign combat troops wind down their nearly 13-year mission in the country. A follow-on military training and counter-terrorism mission is contingent on Kabul signing the bilateral security agreement with the U.S.
President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign the agreement, but both presidential candidates have said they will, if elected.
The Afghan government depends nearly entirely on foreign assistance for funding, and what happens with this transition of power could go a long way in determining how much continued assistance the country gets, Smith said.
“There are a lot of NGOs and other development actors who are waiting to see what will happen in this transition before they sign off on any new projects, (and) that’s important for a country as aid-dependent as Afghanistan is for their economy,” he said.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.