Car bomb, rockets hit Kabul

Car bomb, rockets hit Kabul

Attacks come just two days before elections

: A suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a Western military convoy in the Afghan capital on Tuesday and a Taliban rocket hit the presidential palace grounds just two days before incumbent Hamid Karzai seeks re-election.

Tolo television quoted officials at an Afghan military hospital as saying that two people were killed and 16 wounded, while police detective Abdul Ghafar Sayed-Zada said the target appeared to be a Western military food convoy, although most of the casualties were civilian bystanders.

With Karzai fighting to win a fresh mandate without a second round run-off, the election is also a test of US President Barack Obama’s strategy of escalating the 8-year-old conflict in an effort to reverse recent Taliban gains.

In a speech on Monday aimed at bolstering public support, Obama called the Afghan conflict “a war worth fighting”.

The Taliban militants have vowed to step up that fight and disrupt the poll with violence that could damage the election’s legitimacy by cutting turnout.

Several small rockets were fired on Monday night at the capital and a police source said one caused some damage inside the sprawling, fortified presidential palace compound and a second hit the capital’s police headquarters. Neither caused any casualties.
In Uruzgan province in the south, a suicide bomber on foot struck a police checkpoint, killing three Afghan soldiers and two civilians. A provincial council candidate, meanwhile, was shot dead in the northern Jowzjan province.

Hectic rallies

Election campaigning officially ended on  Monday midnight after a final day that saw hectic rallies in support of Karzai and his main rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

Polls show Karzai likely to win Thursday’s vote, but not with the outright majority required to avoid a second round in six weeks. 

Hamid Karzai’s reliance on the ex-militia leaders has raised alarm among his international backers worried that warlords could return to power in the country they dominated for decades.

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