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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 October, 2004, 23:59 GMT 00:59 UK
Kabul explosion on eve of polls
Site of a rocket attack in Kabul
Afghan police secured the area after the blast
A loud explosion in the Afghan capital, Kabul on the eve of the country's presidential elections, was caused by a rocket attack, officials said.

There were no casualties in the blast, which happened in the embassy area of the city, a police chief said.

Afghanistan has been braced for attacks ahead of presidential elections, which take place on Saturday.

The Afghan government has said it is confident the vote will go ahead despite threats of violence.

The rocket attack, in the early hours of Friday, happened near the main headquarters of international peacekeepers, and within a few hundred metres of the US and German embassies, officials said.

In Washington a spokesman for the State Department said: "There was a rocket explosion 200 metres outside the embassy compound.

"There are no casualties in the embassy compound and all staff have returned to quarters."

Assassination attempt

The US-backed president, Hamid Karzai, faces 17 other candidates in the election, and is widely expected to win.

Mr Karzai's vice presidential running mate Ahmed Zia Massood survived an assassination attempt on Wednesday.

There are about 9,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan to help stabilise the country and provide security for the election.

More than 18,000 US-led troops are still in Afghanistan, battling rebels in the south of the country, thought to be linked to the Taliban regime ousted by the American-led invasion in 2001.

Violence has dominated the election campaign


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