Taliban gunmen have abducted an Afghan candidate running for a seat in the provincial council of Sar-i-Puland and seven members of his entourage, an Afghan official has said.

Governor Abdul Jabar Haqbeen said on Monday that candidate Hussain Nazari and seven others were taken overnight in the northern Sar-i-Pul province.

They were travelling in a taxi to the provincial capital and had no security escort with them, he said.

The governor said elders in the community were trying to negotiate with the Taliban to get Nazari and the others released.

Afghanistan is holding elections on Saturday for a new president to replace Hamid Karzai, as well as for provincial council members.

The Taliban have vowed to use force to disrupt the April 5 vote and have stepped up attacks in the lead-up to the polling.

On Saturday, suicide bombers targeted buildings near the Independent Election Commission headquarters in Kabul, leaving four attackers killed and at least two police officers injured.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

Last Friday, Taliban fighters also attacked a Kabul guesthouse used by a US anti-landmine charity, killing two people including a teenage girl.

Source: Agencies