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Page last updated at 17:15 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 18:15 UK

Deadly pre-poll attack hits Kabul

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The suspected car bomb attack took place on a busy road

A suicide car bomber has killed 10 people in an attack on a convoy of Western troops in the Afghan capital.

More than 50 people were wounded in the explosion, which came despite heightened security ahead of Thursday's presidential election.

A Nato soldier and nine Afghans, including two UN staff, died in the explosion, the Nato-led force said.

Militants have threatened to disrupt the vote, in which Hamid Karzai is tipped to be re-elected president.

However, correspondents say he is facing a strong challenge from ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. Several dozen candidates are in the race.

ANALYSIS
Hugh Sykes
Hugh Sykes, BBC News, Kabul

The suicide car bomb went off at about 1pm on the main road out of Kabul to Jalalabad.

It's also the route to the sprawling Bagram international military base.

The road is often used to transport members of the International Security and Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and it is believed they were the intended target.

The bomb was heard in the neighbourhood and sent up a huge plume of black smoke, said witnesses, but Kabul's busy daily routine was barely affected.

In other violence on Tuesday:

• A rocket was fired into the presidential compound in the capital, Kabul; no-one was reported injured

• Two US soldiers died in a roadside bomb in the east of the country

• Two civilians and three Afghan soldiers died when a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up in southern Uruzgan province, police said

• In the usually peaceful north, an election candidate was shot dead in Jowzjan province, and three poll workers were killed in Badakhshan when their car hit a bomb

In a statement, President Karzai said such attacks would not deter Afghans, who would vote "despite the efforts of the enemies and will show their opposition to their barbaric acts", reports Reuters news agency.

Body parts

But meanwhile, Afghanistan's foreign ministry urged the media not to cover any violence on election day, saying such reports could scare voters away.

"This decision will control the negative impact of the media. If something happens, this will prevent them from exaggerating it, so that people will not be frightened to come out and vote," Siamak Herawi, a spokesman for President Karzai, told Reuters.

British troops at the site of a suicide car bomb in Kabul on 18 August 2009
I was inside my shop and then it collapsed on me, so I walked away, there were a lot of dead bodies
Jawed Ahmad
Kabul shopkeeper

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Kabul suicide blast, which targeted a convoy of foreign troops near a bustling market on the busy Jalalabad road.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said in a statement: "Updated reports indicate those killed were one Isaf service member, seven Afghan civilians and two Afghan civilian employees of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan."

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw British soldiers, who were securing the site, collecting what appeared to be body parts from the roof of an Afghan home.

"I was inside my shop and then it collapsed on me, so I walked away. There were a lot of dead bodies," shopkeeper Jawed Ahmad said.

The latest violence comes as a BBC investigation found thousands of voting cards have been up for sale and thousands of dollars have been offered in bribes to buy votes.

The Afghan Independent Election Commission, which is overseeing the ballot, denied voting cards were being sold, saying they could only be used by their rightful owners.

Thursday's vote will be Afghanistan's second presidential election since the US-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban regime.



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