Abdul Jabar Qahraman, Afghan election candidate, killed in explosion in campaign office

Jabar Qahraman, an election candidate in the southern province in Afghanistan, was killed in his campaign office on Wednesday after explosives kept under his sofa blew up.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Qahraman, who was running for the southern province of Helmand, a stronghold for the militant group, reported AFP. Another seven were wounded in the blast

Qahraman had been meeting with supporters in his campaign office in the southern province of Helmand — a Taliban stronghold — when the attack happened, provincial governor spokesman Omar Zhwak told AFP.

“We have arrested several people in connection with the blast,” he added.
Provincial police spokesman Salam Afghan confirmed the explosion had killed one person and wounded at least two.

Afghanistan witnessed a string of attacks ahead of the October 20 parliamentary elections. Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in the months leading up to the long-delayed ballot. At least ten candidates, including Qahraman, have died so far, most of them murdered in targeted killings, reported AFP.

Qahraman was the second candidate killed in Lashkar Gah this month, after Saleh Mohammad Asikzai was among eight people killed in a suicide attack last week. That incident came a day after the Taliban warned candidates to withdraw from the parliamentary election, which the group has vowed to attack.

Qahraman, a former army general under the Communist regime in the 1980s, had long been in the Taliban’s crosshairs.
President Ashraf Ghani sent Qahraman, a sitting MP, to Helmand as his special envoy in 2016 to help defeat the militant group. Qahraman later resigned.

Preparations for the ballot have been a shambles and with days to go, organisers are still struggling to distribute voting materials to more than 5,000 polling centres.

The election for parliament’s lower house is seen as a dry run for the presidential vote scheduled for April and organisers have said it would not be delayed any further.

It also is seen as a key milestone ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva in November, where Afghanistan will be under pressure to show progress on “democratic processes”.

Almost nine million people have registered to vote, but observers expect far fewer to turn out due to the threat of militant attacks and expectations of widespread fraud.

More than 50,000 members of Afghanistan’s already overstretched security forces are being deployed to protect polling centres on election day.

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