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An explosion at an election rally in Afghanistan leaves at least 12 dead and dozens wounded

KABUL (Reuters) – At least 12 people were killed and more than 30 wounded in an explosion during an election rally of a woman who has run for parliamentary election in Afghanistan on Oct. 20, authorities said on Saturday.

PHOTO OF ARCHIVE: Scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, September 9, 2018.REUTERS / Omar Sobhani

Khalil Asir, a police spokesman in the northeastern province of Takhar, said the explosives were placed on a motorcycle near the Nazifa Yousufi Bek rally.

"So far we have received a report of 12 dead and 32 injured, the victims include security and civil servants," said Asir.

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Dozens of people had gathered to listen to the candidate, but police said he was not at the rally at the time of the explosion.

Bek is one of the 417 women who aspire to obtain seats across the country, the highest figure in history, despite the suicide bombings in rallies and electoral offices, which apparently aim to push voters to boycott the vote scheduled for October 20.

The candidates are challenging the violence and opposition of the conservatives in a campaign that has been seen as a test of the strength of the democratic institutions of a country devastated by war.

So far, five candidates have been killed, all men, in different attacks. Two others have been kidnapped and four others have been wounded by hard-line Islamist militants, said the election officials.

Takhar, a province bordering Tajikistan, has traditionally been a focus of the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban have urged Afghans to boycott the elections.

Information from Sardar Razmal and Abdul Qadir Sediqi; translated by Tomás Cobos in the editorial office of Madrid

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