Afghanistan’s election front-runner escapes assassination attempt

Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah arrives to attend an election campaign after a bomb attack on his convoy in Kabul . Credit: Reuters
Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah arrives to attend an election campaign after a bomb attack on his convoy in Kabul .
Credit: Reuters

Abdullah Abdullah, front-runner in Afghanistan’s presidential election, escaped assassination on Friday when two bombs blew up outside a hotel where he had just staged a rally, killing six people.

The midday blasts, one caused by a suicide bomber, destroyed a car in Abdullah’s convoy, police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai said. One of the dead was a bodyguard. Twenty-two people were injured.

Television images showed the charred remains of the car alongside shattered shop fronts in a densely populated western district of Kabul.

“When I was leaving the rally from the People’s Islamic Unity Party, our car was hit by a roadside bomb and destroyed,” Abdullah said at another rally soon afterwards.

Abdullah, a former leader of the opposition to the Islamist Taliban, came first in the largely peaceful first round of the poll to replace Hamid Karzai, winning 45 percent of the vote.

Former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani scored 31.6 percent and the run-off between the two leaders is set for June 14.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Abdullah but the Taliban, seeking to set up an Islamic state, have vowed to disrupt the election. They could not be reached by phone.

It was the most serious attempt on Abdullah’s life since the start of the presidential race and the first such attack close to a rally. In February, he survived an assault on his convoy as he was traveling between the capital and the eastern city of Jalalabad.

By law, the elections must start again from scratch if one of the candidates is killed. Such an event could place the country in an extremely difficult position just months before the pullout at the end of the year of most foreign forces.

The election’s first round won praise as an unexpected success after the Taliban, removed from power in 2001 by a U.S.-led invasion, failed to deter millions of voters from turning out in major cities to vote.

The run-off is likely to prove more difficult as the Taliban summer offensive will be in full swing.

The number of weekly attacks rose by around 10 percent to more than 350 incidents – including suicide attacks, gun battles and roadside bombs – in the final week of May, according to a Western security firm.

And recruitment at radical Islamic schools in places like Quetta in Pakistan has intensified as part of the Taliban’s campaign to disrupt the vote. [ID:nL3N0OJ1PW]

It was unclear whether the attack near the rally represented a change in tactics following the removal of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Qayoum from the group’s military leadership.

The Taliban denied suggestions that Mullah Qayoum had been dismissed for failing to disrupt the first round and said he had stepped down because of longstanding health issues.


NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…


Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.


Paint Nite: Get drunk and make a painting…

At Paint Nite, New Yorkers can drink and make a painting at a New York City bar.


Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…


Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.


Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.


'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.


PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.


Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.


MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack


2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?


5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.


Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.


5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.


Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…


Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.