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Bomb strikes Afghan presidential candidate’s convoy

Abdullah Abdullah, who faces a runoff vote next week, was not harmed in the attack.

Associated Press

Abdullah Abdullah, who faces a runoff vote next week, was not harmed in the attack.

KABUL — A suicide bombing on Friday struck a convoy of vehicles carrying one of the candidates in Afghanistan’s presidential runoff election next week. The candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, escaped unharmed, but at least six other people were killed.

It appeared to be the first direct attack on a presidential contender since the campaign began in January, Afghan officials said.

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The bombing took place shortly after noon, as Abdullah was traveling between campaign events at hotels in Kabul, said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

Police were still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but it appeared that there were at least two blasts in close succession aimed at Abdullah’s convoy.

Sediqqi said the first explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, but authorities were still trying to establish whether the second explosion was caused by a bomb hidden on the road or by a magnetic explosive attached to a car.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that six people were known to have died in the attack. It identified the dead as “civilians”; other officials said at least one of Abdullah’s bodyguards was among the dead.

Abdullah was traveling with Zalmai Rassoul, a candidate who did not make it past the first round of voting in April. The Abdullah campaign said Rassoul was not harmed in the attack.

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“We were together, and a bomb hit our car; the car is destroyed,” Abdullah told supporters at a gathering shortly after the attack. “It didn’t hurt us, but a number of my guards were wounded. The injuries aren’t serious. The second bomb also exploded, but the first bomb directly hit our car. God save us.”

Abdullah received the most votes in the first round of balloting in April, but not enough to avoid a runoff.

He faces Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who received the second-most votes, in the runoff election on June 14.

The winner will succeed President Hamid Karzai in July. Both men are former ministers in Karzai’s government.

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