Attempted assassination of Afghan frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah

Afghan presidential frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah escaped assassination on Friday morning when two charges detonated outside of a hotel. Six people are confirmed dead, and the blasts destroyed several cars in Abdullah’s convoy. Twenty-two bystanders were also injured. The blasts took place in the Kote Sangi area of western Kabul, next to the Ariana Hotel. Police spokesman Hasmat Stanekzai declared the attack was a suicide bombing, but so far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack specifically. The Taliban, however, has vowed to disrupt the elections by whatever means necessary.

This has been the most serious attempt on Abdullah’s life since the beginning of February, when he survived an assault on his convoy as he was traveling between Kabul and Jalalabad. The assassination attempt is troubling for obvious reasons, but also for the fact that according to Afghan law, the presidential race must restart from the beginning if one of the runoff candidates are killed, placing the country into an extremely difficult and tense situation just before an enormous drawdown of foreign troop presence.

Abdullah appeared in a press conference after the incident to display his safety and declared that Zalmai Rassoul was also accompanying him while they were on their way to attend another rally. As the runoff election will take place next week, violence might very well increase between now and then, with the other candidate Ashraf Ghani also vying for the presidential position. Ghani denounced the attack immediately on Twitter, condemning those responsible, though none have come forward as of Friday evening in Kabul.

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