Militants have launched a suicide attack near an Afghan election commission office, close to the Kabul home of a leading candidate for the presidential poll.
The Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the ballot on April 5, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the run-up to election day.
Blasts were heard mid-morning in the western Darulaman area of the Afghan capital near the house of Ashraf Ghani, who is seen as a frontrunner in the race to succeed President Hamid Karzai.
“It was a suicide bomb attack near an IEC (Independent Election Commission) branch office,” Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Estanakzai said.
A member of Ghani’s campaign team said the former World Bank economist was out of Kabul at the time, campaigning in the eastern province of Paktia.
“The attack is not at doctor Ashraf Ghani’s house, it is at another building nearby,” the source said.
Witness Ahmad Sharif, a government employee, said he heard two loud explosions followed by gunfire.
IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said security forces had told them their office may be the target of the attack.
“We have spoken to our staff in that office, they are all fine and are in their bunkers,” Noor said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but suicide bombings have been a key weapon for Taliban militants in their fight against Karzai’s government and its foreign backers since 2001.
On Thursday, four gunmen stormed Kabul’s Serena hotel and shot dead nine civilians including an Agence France-Presse journalist, an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The Serena attack came on the same day that seven Taliban suicide attackers invaded a police station in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing 10 policemen.