Bomb Kills At Least 22 At Election Rally For Afghan Woman Candidate
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Afghan officials say at least 22 people have been killed -- including civilians and members of the Afghan security forces -- by a bomb that exploded at an election campaign rally for a woman who is running for parliament in the northeast of the country.
Ahmad Jawad Hijri, a spokesman for the governor of Takhar Province, said 36 people were wounded in the attack in Rustaq district.
He earlier told RFE/RL that the death toll could rise because many of the wounded were in critical condition.
Khalil Aser, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said at least 32 people were wounded by the blast.
Aser said an explosives-laden motorcycle had been parked near the rally and was detonated before Nazefa Yousufi Beg arrived to speak to voters ahead of Afghanistan's October 20 elections.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Taliban militants are active in the area and have claimed previous attacks in Takhar.
Bek is one of 417 women contesting seats across the country, more than ever before.
Takhar, a province bordering Tajikistan, has long been a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.
In the western province of Herat, gunmen attacked the election campaign office of a candidate, killing a security guard and a child, said Jailani Farhad, a spokesman for the Herat governor.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks in a statement, saying that the enemies of Afghans cannot weaken the will of the nation.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass condemned the violence, and called on the Taliban to do the same.
"If the group [the Taliban] is serious about the peace process it will do the same and punish those responsible," he said in a tweet.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.