Afghan soldiers die in Kabul suicide bombing
Taliban claims responsibility for attack on bus in Afghan capital that left 11 people dead and 13 others wounded.
Last updated: 02 Jul 2014 20:25
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in Kabul via a spokesman [AFP]
A Taliban suicide bomber has struck a bus carrying Afghan military personnel in Kabul killing at least 11 people, officials say.
The blast on Wednesday targeted a bus, blowing out the windows and leaving the interior spattered with blood.
Afghan soldiers cordoned off the scene as the bus was lifted by a crane to be carried away.
The bombing came as the country continues to struggle through its first democratic transition of power, with electoral officials announcing on Wednesday that the release of initial election results were to postponed until next week due to allegations of fraud.
General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defence Ministry spokesman, said eight army soldiers were killed and 13 others wounded in the blast.
Three civilians were also killed, according to Kabul's criminal investigation chief Gul Agha Hashim.
Army General Kadamshah Shahim said the bomber was stopped before he could enter the bus, preventing a higher casualty toll.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack via Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman .
Preliminary results from a June 14 run-off vote between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai had been due on Wednesday.
But the Independent Election Commission said they were being postponed until Monday so ballots from 1,930 polling stations in 30 provinces could be audited because of complaints about irregularities.
The winner will replace President Hamid Karzai, the only leader the country has known since the 2001 US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban.
He was constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
Western officials had hoped for a smooth transfer of power ahead of the withdrawal of US and allied combat troops by the end of this year.
Afghanistan election result faces delay amid fraud allegations
The final result of Afghanistan's presidential runoff faces a likely delay as ballots are recounted in one-third of the polling centers. Fraud allegations have marred the country's first democratic transition of power.
On Tuesday, Afghanistan's electoral commission announced that it would likely delay the preliminary result of last month's presidential runoff until the weekend at the earliest. The result was originally scheduled to be made public on Wednesday.
"The announcement of preliminary results is likely to be delayed until Saturday," election commissioner Sharifa Zurmati said. "Around 2,000 polling centers are to be recounted because of alleged fraud."
In June, Afghans defied Taliban violence to vote in a presidential runoff between former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and ex-World Bank official Ashraf Ghani. Ballots were cast at 6,000 polling stations across the country.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) reported that 99.7 percent of the ballots had been logged into its database.
IEC chief Zia ul-Haq Amarkhail resigned his post last week after Abdullah's campaign released a phone conversation in which Amarkhail allegedly called for ballot boxes to be stuffed. Amarkhail claimed the recording was fake but said he was stepping down so that Abdullah would end his boycott of the vote.
Abdullah rejects result
Abdullah has accused Ghani, the election commission and incumbent President Hamid Karzai ofstuffing ballot boxes. The former foreign minister and anti-Taliban resistance fighter made similar allegations in the 2009 presidential election, in which Karzai won a second term.
"The commission has lost its legitimacy for us, and the recount of 2,000 polling centers will not change anything for us," said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for Abdullah's campaign.
Meanwhile, Ghani claims that the election was free and fair, calling on the commission to stick with its original timeline for the result. However, on Tuesday, his campaign announced that it would accept a delay.
"If this delay is for the sake of transparency, then we accept it, though it runs against the election law," campaign spokeswoman Azita Rafat told the AFP news agency.
Fears of violence
Last week, the United Nations called on the candidates and their supporters to "refrain from any acts that incite imminent violence, disorder or lead to instability."
There's been concern that election tensions could result in violence. Ghani's supporters are largely Pashtuns while Abdullah's loyalists are primarily Tajiks and other ethnic groups from the north.
Abdullah won the first round of the election with 45 percent of the vote, against Ghani's 31.6 percent. However, the former foreign minister fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.
The final result of the runoff was originally slated for July 22, with the new president to be inaugurated on August 2.