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Afghans protest against alleged vote fraud

Hundreds rally in capital Kabul against alleged fraud in last week's presidential runoff.

Last updated: 22 Jun 2014 05:06
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Abdullah Abdullah has accused election officials of trying to rig the June 14 vote against him [EPA]

Hundreds of Afghans have protested against alleged fraud in last week's presidential runoff, part of escalating tensions over what Western officials had hoped would be a smooth transfer of power as violence across the country killed at least 13 people.

Former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, who is running against Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister, has accused electoral officials and others of trying to rig the June 14 vote against him.

Abdullah announced this week that he was severing ties with the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and would refuse to recognise any results it releases. He also suggested that the United Nations step in, an idea supported by President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

The IEC's official timetable says initial results are due on July 2. Independent Election Commission chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani said on Saturday that the commission would address or investigate any concern Abdullah had.

Around a thousand Abdullah supporters gathered in Kabul to protest against the electoral commission, accusing it of fraud and chanting: "Our vote is our blood and we will stand up for it!"

RELATED: The Afghan ballot test

Hundreds of anti-riot police surrounded the demonstration, which was peaceful, the Associated Press reported.

"We gather today to protest against the election commission, which is not an independent commission at all. They are conducting fraud for a specific candidate," said Mohammed Ghani Sharifi, a 23-year-old protester. "The people are so upset and they cannot tolerate such fraud because the people took risks to cast their votes."

In a separate demonstration, hundreds of Abdullah supporters marched from the northern part of the capital towards the airport, where they were stopped by a police roadblock preventing anyone from entering or leaving Kabul's international airport.

Suicide bombing

Earlier on Saturday, a suicide car bombing in Kabul aimed at a senior government official killed one civilian and wounded three others but did not harm its apparent target, Afghan security officials said.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said the bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle alongside the armoured car of Mohammed Masoom Stanikzai, a senior official in the High Peace Council, a government body tasked with peace talks with the Taliban. The two men are not related.

Meanwhile, a bomb hidden in a rubbish bin killed three civilians and one police officer in Jalalabad in eastern Nangarhar province, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, spokesman for the provincial governor.

In the southern Helmand province, Taliban fighters attacked several checkpoints, killing three police and wounding two, said Omer Zwak, a spokesman for the governor. He said 10 fighters were killed.

In the southern Uruzgan province, a remotely detonated bomb killed three people and gunmen on a motorbike killed one police officer in the southern Kandahar province, authorities said. In the western Herat province, a roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded another, provincial police spokesman Raouf Ahmadi said.

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