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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Thousands protest Afghan killing
Protestors demonstrating in Kabul against the killing of election candidate
No violence was reported at the protests
Thousands of people have held protests in Afghanistan against the killing of an election candidate last week.

Nearly 4,000 people marched in the capital, Kabul, and hundreds demonstrated in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, reports say.

Ethnic Hazara Mohammed Ashraf Ramazan, was the first candidate to be killed since landmark parliamentary and local elections were held on 18 September.

Seven other candidates were killed in the run-up to the vote.

Mr Ramazan was driving through Mazar-e-Sharif last Tuesday when he was shot dead by unknown attackers.

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Protesters blamed local officials for his killing, and called for Balkh governor Atta Mohammed, an influential Tajik leader, to resign.

Mr Mohammed has denied any involvement in the murder.

Hazaras, who make up about 10% of Afghanistan's 25 million people, were being discriminated against, one of the community's leaders, Mohammed Mohaqiq, said.

"I ask the international community, where is the security that you have promised us? And I ask [President Hamid] Karzai where is the justice that you have promised?" he told the rally in Kabul, the Associated Press reports.

Road block

Supporters of Mr Ramazan also staged a protest for the second successive day in Mazar-e-Sharif, blocking the main road to Kabul.

Officials say there was no violence and the road was re-opened after several hours.

Map of Afghanistan

A senior police official said an interior ministry delegation from Kabul was in the city to investigate the killing of Mr Ramazan.

Afghanistan's election commission has said that Mr Ramazan had been running in fifth place for one of 11 assembly seats in Balkh province.

The counting of votes in the election is still continuing.

Analysts had expressed concern before the election about a clause in the election law which says that if a winning candidate dies, the seat goes to the next in line.

More than a 1,000 people have been killed in violence linked to militancy in Afghanistan this year.




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