Afghan rebels attack school after election results announcement

Gunmen shot dead a headmaster in front of students and killed a school guard and dumped his body in a stream in separate attacks on schools in southern Afghanistan, unusual targets in a region wracked by rebel violence, officials said Wednesday. Insurgents also shot and killed a district government chief as he prayed in a mosque, they said.

In the capital, meanwhile, officials released more results from last month's legislative elections. Among the new winners was a notorious warlord accused of war crimes, a former journalist for British radio and a young woman famed for her beauty, the AP reports.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the attacks on the schools. Though the Taliban oppose Afghans sending their children to secular government schools instead of Islamic boarding schools, known as madrases, there has been little violence directed at teachers.

Two assailants rode on a motorbike up to Khanjakak High School in Panjwayi district and gunned down the headmaster, Abdul Ali, Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanekzai said. The gunmen fled, and police launched a manhunt.

The school was full of students at the time of the shooting, but no one else was hurt, officials said.

Hours later, gunmen attacked a nearby primary school and shot dead a guard before throwing his body in a stream, said provincial education director Hayadullah Rafiui.

The official who was killed as he prayed was the government head in Panjwayi district, said Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid. The official had recently denounced the rebels and was the latest prominent anti-Taliban figure shot dead in a spate of attacks.

There were hopes that the spike in violence would ease after the Sept. 18 elections, but there has been no let up. The polls were the last formal step toward democracy for Afghanistan on a path laid out after the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

Election organizers have been releasing results for each province as they are ready, and on Wednesday announced they had finished the count for the capital Kabul and were preparing for them to be certified.

"We will finish counting all the provinces by this weekend ... and will have all the results certified by the end of the month," said Aleem Siddique, a spokesman for the joint U.N.-Afghan election organizers.

Among the provisional winners in Kabul was Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a powerful militia leader accused of war crimes by New York-based Human Rights Watch, which alleged that his fighters killed civilians, raped women and plundered at will during Afghanistan's civil war.


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