KABUL: The death toll from two explosions targeting Afghan presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah doubled on Saturday, with at least 12 people confirmed dead in an attack that triggered strong international condemnation.
Abdullah survived the assassination attempt on Friday when the blasts, including a suicide bombing, targeted his campaign motorcade in Kabul ahead of next week’s hotly contested run-off election.
It was the second attack on Abdullah during Afghanistan’s fractious election season, which has seen an uptick in violence with Taliban militants threatening to disrupt the polls.
“The casualty toll has increased to 12 people, while a further 40 people, including one woman, were wounded,” Sayed Gul Agha Hashemi, head of Kabul police’s criminal investigation branch, told AFP.
Afghan officials on Friday said that six people were killed in the attack. Abdullah himself escaped unhurt but said he had lost three of his campaign workers.
The UN Security Council condemned the attack strongly, calling for an orderly transition to a new government in Afghanistan.
“The members of the Security Council underlined their support for Afghanistan’s democratic processes, and looked forward to the second round of the presidential election,” it said in a statement on Friday.
The United States also denounced the attack, saying that “the Afghan people deserve democracy — which they’ll be exercising next week — not violence”.
No one has thus far claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt but Taliban militants have vowed to disrupt the June 14 run-off election.
“The high number of civilians killed and injured further shows a complete disregard for the lives of ordinary Afghans,” said Jan Kubis, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
“Such an attack on a busy road used by many civilians violates the most basic principles of humanity,” he said in a statement.
Afghanistan is in the middle of elections to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who has ruled since the fall of the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.
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.
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