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Afghan election candidate killed in attack

August 28, 2005

Afghan election candidate killed in attack

By Christian Lowe

KABUL (Reuters) - Taliban fighters on Saturday shot dead a parliamentary candidate amid a spate of violence that has raised security fears ahead of Afghanistan's elections. 

The killing of Haji Atiqullah, who intended to stand in the Sept. 18 provincial and parliamentary elections as a candidate for a new lower house of parliament, was accompanied by a rocket-propelled grenade fired at a German peacekeeping base and the wounding of three U.S. soldiers in an attack near Kabul. 

"The Taliban killed him," Jan Mohammad Khan, governor of the troubled southern province of Uruzgan said on Sunday, adding that Atiqullah's driver and bodyguard were wounded. 

A spokesmen for the Taliban, who have been fighting an insurgency since they were driven from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, said Taliban fighters had killed Atiqullah. 

President Hamid Karzai said the tide of violence would not deter the Afghan people from holding the elections and that he was confident the elections would go smoothly. 

"We are very sure that the election will take place peacefully," Karzai said at a news conference with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 

"There will be threats, there will be terrorist activity, but that won't deter the Afghan people." 

Atiqullah was travelling home in a convoy on Saturday after campaigning, an election commission spokeswoman said, adding it was not clear if he was the intended target or if his convoy was mistaken for someone else's. 

In the town of Faizabad in the northeast, unidentified attackers fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a base used by German peacekeepers on Saturday. Taliban insurgents are not known to be active in that part of the country. 

"The rocket failed to explode properly. There were no casualties," said a spokesman for Afghanistan's NATO-led peacekeeping force. 

Three U.S. soldiers were wounded in an attack on their convoy about 40 km (25 miles) east of the capital, Kabul, on Friday, the U.S. military said. 

U.S. forces have suffered 48 deaths in combat in Afghanistan this year making it the worst period since they arrived to oust the Taliban in October 2001. 

Five election workers have also been killed in recent weeks but the joint U.N.-Afghan election commission said it did not regard all of those killings as attacks on the election. 

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