Afghan election candidate among four killed in bomb attack

The writer is a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army and a former federal secretary. He has also served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

The top US military commander in Afghanistan survived an attack Thursday in the southern province of Kandahar in which a legendary Afghan police general and the local intelligence chief were killed and two American servicemembers were wounded, officials said.

At least two US soldiers were reported wounded in the incident, but Miller was said to be unhurt, according to the officials.

The Taliban militants group in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Security forces swarmed the city after the attack at the provincial governor's office where the senior Afghan and foreign officials had gathered, witnesses told AFP.

Qahraman is the 10th candidate killed in the past two months.

"The shooting happened as they were leaving the meeting", the official said, adding two members of Afghanistan's spy agency also were injured.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman Col Knut Peters said the wounded Americans had been caught in the crossfire and had been evacuated. There are however reports that two Americans have been wounded - one military and one civilian.

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Officials were unable to immediately identify the attacker, although the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation press office in Kabul said initial reports suggest he is dead. "We are being told the area is secure".

"This serious attack seems likely to shake the confidence of the government as security forces prepare for one of their largest operations of the year, guarding more than 5000 polling centres in the upcoming parliamentary elections", said Graeme Smith, a consultant for the conflict monitoring organisation International Crisis Group.

Abdul Jabar Qahraman was preparing for Saturday's election when he was killed, officials said.

More than 2,500 candidates are running for 249 parliamentary seats in the October 20 elections.

An election candidate was among four persons killed in a bomb explosion at his office in Afghanistan's Helmand province on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

The election is seen as a rehearsal for the presidential vote scheduled for April and an important milestone ahead of a United Nations meeting in Geneva in November where Afghanistan is under pressure to show progress on "democratic processes".

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