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Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Sunday, 26 July 2009 15:20 UK

Afghan election hopeful attacked

File photo of Mohammed Qasim Fahim (l) and Hamid Karzai in Kabul, May 2009
Mr Fahim (left) is one of Hamid Karzai's two running mates

One of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's running mates in next month's election has survived an assassination attempt, officials say.

Mohammed Qasim Fahim's convoy was fired at with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in northern Kunduz province, said its governor.

Mr Fahim was not injured, although a bodyguard was hurt, officials say.

A vice-presidential candidate, Mr Fahim formerly led the Northern Alliance that helped topple the Taliban in 2001.

'Safe and sound'

He was travelling by road from Kunduz, where he had been campaigning, to neighbouring Takhar province, when his convoy was ambushed, officials said.

An Afghan intelligence official in Kunduz told the BBC that the attack resulted in a 30 minute gun battle.

One of Mr Karzai's campaign team in the north-east, Zulmai Mojadidi, told the BBC: "I can confirm that as a result of the attack one of Marshal Mohammad Fahim's bodyguards has been injured. But Marshal Fahim is safe and sound and on his way to Takhar province."

Reuters news agency quoted a Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, as claiming responsibility for the attack.

In recent months, there has been a spate of attacks in Kunduz blamed on al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says Mr Fahim is an arch rival of the Taliban. He survived an apparent assassination attempt when he was interim defence minister in 2002.

Elections are due to take place in Afghanistan amid tight security on 20 August.

Mr Karzai is hoping to secure a second term. He named Mr Fahim and Vice-President Karim Khalili as running mates in May.



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