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Election Rally Blast Kills 24 Afghans, President Ghani Remains Unhurt

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KABUL: Around 24 people have been killed and 31 injured in an explosion near an election rally attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but the head of the state remained unhurt in the incident, according to a presidential aide.

Ghani was all set to address an election rally in Charikar, capital of Parwan province located north of Kabul, when suspected militants attacked the gathering.

Head of the provincial hospital Abdul Qasim Sangin said, “Most of the victims seem to be civilians, including women and children. Ambulances are still operating in the blast zone and the number of casualties may rise.”

According to a local government official, the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. “The president is unharmed,” said Ghani’s aide. No militant group has so far claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

In another incident, an explosion killed at least three people in the centre of Kabul, according to police officials. They said that ambulances and Afghan security forces immediately rushed to the blast site after the incident.

Taliban have intensified their attacks after their commanders vowed to escalate clashes with the Afghan and foreign forces to discourage people from voting in the September 28 presidential election. Ghani would participate in the election in hope of securing another five-year term in office.

Security measures at election rallies have been tightened following threats by the Taliban to attack political gatherings and polling stations.

It merits mention here that peace talks between the United States (US) and Taliban were discontinued last week which dashed the hopes of all stakeholders seeking to reach an accord to ensure the withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange of security guarantees from the Taliban fighters.

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The talks, which excluded the Afghan government, were intended to pave the way for comprehensive negotiations to end the more than 40 years of war in Afghanistan.

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