Parliamentary candidate shoot dead in Afghanistan, Taliban responsible

Taliban fighters on Saturday shot dead a parliamentary candidate amid a spate of violence that has raised security fears ahead of Afghanistan's elections.

The killing of Haji Atiqullah, who intended to stand in the September 18 provincial and parliamentary elections as a candidate for a new lower house of parliament, was accompanied by a rocket-propelled grenade fired at a German peacekeeping base and the wounding of three U.S. soldiers in an attack near Kabul.

"The Taliban killed him," Jan Mohammad Khan, governor of the troubled southern province of Uruzgan said on Sunday, adding that Atiqullah's driver and bodyguard were wounded.

A spokesmen for the Taliban, who have been fighting an insurgency since they were driven from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, said Taliban fighters had killed Atiqullah.

President Hamid Karzai said the tide of violence would not deter the Afghan people from holding the elections and that he was confident the elections would go smoothly.

"We are very sure that the election will take place peacefully," Karzai said at a news conference with visiting Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, reports Reuters.

But, According to CBC, other Afghan officials, as well as U.S. authorities, have warned that the violence may worsen ahead of the elections, the next key step toward democracy after a quarter-century of fighting.

American military commanders have prepared elaborate security plans to safeguard the voting, saying Taliban rebels are throwing all their resources into disrupting the polls.

Last week, militants attacked a U.S. military convoy 40 kilometers east of Kabul, wounding three American soldiers, a U.S. military statement said Sunday.

Attacks on the U.S. military so close to Kabul are rare and Friday's assault occurred less than a week after a roadside bomb in the capital exploded near a convoy of U.S. Embassy vehicles, wounding two American staff members.

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