Taliban kill candidate, urge poll boycott
* Four militants killed, one US soldier wounded
KABUL: Taliban warned the Afghan people on Friday not to take part in elections this weekend, saying they could get hurt, after gunmen believed to be from the group killed a candidate, the seventh so far.
National assembly candidate Abdul Hadi was shot dead on Thursday night in the southern province of Helmand, provincial spokesman Mohammad Wali Alizai said. “The gunmen called at his house and when he came out they opened fire and killed him,” he said, adding that the attackers were believed to be Taliban guerrillas.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for killing several of the seven candidates for Sunday’s national assembly and provincial council polls who have now been killed. Speaking to Reuters on Friday, Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi denounced the elections as a US-orchestrated “farce” and warned Afghans they would vote at their own risk. The Taliban have previously said they would not target polling stations, but Hakimi said ordinary Afghans risked being hurt in attacks on foreign “occupation” forces on election day. “The Taliban shoora council appeals to the Afghan people not to take part in the September 18 elections as this election farce is also an American plan,” he said, referring to the guerrillas’ council of clerics. “Therefore, not only should the Afghan people stay away from the elections, they should also try to sabotage them,” he said by satellite phone from an undisclosed location.
“The Taliban have always tried not to hurt the common Afghan people, but they could get hurt during attacks and blasts at places where there are foreign troops,” he said. “If the Afghan people go to the polling stations for voting, they would themselves be responsible for any damage caused to them. However, the Taliban will try to ensure that only foreign troops are targeted and that the Afghan people remain safe.”
Four militants killed, one US soldier wounded in Afghan clash
US forces backed by warplanes and gunship helicopters killed four suspected militants after a roadside bomb wounded an American soldier in southern Afghanistan, the US military said Friday. A joint Afghan-US patrol was hit by the improvised bomb and then by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades on Wednesday in Tarin Kowt, a district in the restive province of Uruzgan, a US statement said. “The ensuing fire fight left four enemy confirmed dead,” the statement said, adding that US forces pursued the attackers and arrested five suspects in a nearby village.
“Coalition attack planes provided air support to the troops on the ground and Apache helicopters provided cover for the medical evacuation of the injured service member,” the statement said. The wounded US soldier was evacuated to Kandahar airfield for treatment and was in a stable condition, it said. Meanwhile three more militants were detained after a tip-off from a detainee near Gardez in the eastern province of Paktia for allegedly making bombs, the US military said.