At least eight killed in Afghan election rally blast

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KABUL: A suspected suicide bomb attack at an election rally in southern Afghanistan has killed at least eight people, officials say, as militants escalate their attacks across the country ahead of general elections scheduled for later this month.

Umar Shakti, the provincial governor’s spokesman, told RFE/RL that 11 people were also injured in the bombing, which took place in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, a Taliban stronghold.

The bomb struck the office of a parliamentary election candidate, Saleh Mohammad Khan Achakzai, while a campaign rally was under way, said Haji Abdul Aahad Sultanzoy, a member of the provincial council Achakzai was among those wounded.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, which comes as the Taliban and the Islamic State (IS) militant groups have stepped up attacks across Afghanistan ahead of long-delayed parliamentary polls set for October 20.

Last week in the eastern province of Nangarhar, at least 18 people were killed in a suicide bombing at an election rally. The IS group claimed responsibility for that attack. —Agencies

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