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Thursday, April 24, 2014

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Abdullah Keeps Lead In
Latest Afghan Presidential Results

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

April 24, 2014

The latest partial results from Afghanistan's presidential election show former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah maintaining a lead of more than 10 percent over his nearest rival.

Officials said April 24 that with 82.6 percent of the vote counted, Abdullah had 43.8 percent, followed by former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani with 32.9 percent and former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasul with 11 percent.

Independent Election Commission chief Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani told a news conference in Kabul that it seems likely that Abdullah and Ghani will face each other in a runoff, expected in late May.

A candidate has to secure at least 50 percent of the vote to win in the first round.

Electoral officials plan to release the complete preliminary results of the first round vote on April 26. The final results are expected to be released May 14.

The first-round vote to choose a replacement for outgoing President Hamid Karzai has been hailed for a high turnout of around 58 percent.


3 Americans Killed in Kabul Hospital Attack

Ayaz Gul

VOA News / April 24, 2014

ISLAMABAD — An Afghan security guard on Thursday opened fire at an international hospital in Kabul, killing three American doctors. The assailant was shot and wounded by his colleagues and has been hospitalized under police custody. The attack is said to be the sixth deadly incident this year in Afghanistan in which foreign civilians have been targeted.

Afghan Interior Ministry officials say the deadly attack occurred when an Afghan security guard opened fire at Kabul’s Cure International Hospital.

Ministry spokesman Sadiq Sidiqqi said the “unfortunate” incident is under investigation and the assailant's motives have yet to be determined. “The attacker was also shot by the other security guard and he is now under the serious watch of police but he is now in the hospital. We do not yet know the motives and the reasons behind this attack,” he said.

In a brief statement on Twitter, the U.S. Embassy said that “with great sadness we can confirm that three Americans were killed in the attack on Cure hospital”. The shooting is said to have left a fourth U.S. citizen wounded.

The hospital run by U.S.-based Christian charity Cure is considered one of the leading health facilities and training institutes in Afghanistan. Cure opened the medical facility about nine years ago and it specializes in children’s and maternal health.

Thursday's attack was the latest on foreigners in the war-torn country. Earlier this month, an Afghan policeman opened fire on two Associated Press journalists, wounding the reporter and killing the photographer in the country's east.

That shooting came just days after Taliban insurgents stormed Kabul’s Serena Hotel and killed at least 9 people, including a senior Afghan journalist with AFP. In March, a Swedish journalist was gunned down in the highly secured Wazir Akbar Khan residential part of the Afghan capital, while a Taliban assault on a restaurant in Kabul earlier this year killed 21 people, including 13 foreign civilians.


Blast kills 1 child, wounds 8 in S. Afghanistan

QALAT, Afghanistan, April 24 (Xinhua)-- A powerful blast rocked Zabul's provincial capital Qalat in south Afghanistan on Thursday afternoon, killing a child and wounding eight others including a soldier and seven non-combatants, provincial police chief Ghulam Sakhi Rogh Liwanai said. "The explosive device was planted on a motorbike and went off next to a military vehicle, killed a child, wounding an Afghan soldier and seven passersby,"Liwanai told Xinhua.

He added it was a remote-controlled bomb and when the military vehicle was passing the area, the terrorists detonated the explosive-borne motorbike by remote control and inflicted casualties.

Liawanai blamed the enemies of peace, a term used against Taliban militants by Afghan officials, for organizing the attack. However, the armed Taliban outfit has yet to make comment.


Air raids kill Taliban commander in E. Afghanistan

ASSADABAD, Afghanistan, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Two militants including a commander were killed as aircrafts stormed their hideout in Nari district of the eastern Kunar province, 185 km east of Kabul late Wednesday night, provincial police chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhili said Thursday.

"Acting upon intelligence report the aircrafts targeted a Taliban hideout in Zalai village of Narai district at 11:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, killing Taliban commander Mullah Ayub along with his bodyguard," Sayedkhili told Xinhua.

However, he didn't provide more details.

Taliban militants are yet to make comment.

The mountainous Kunar province bordering Pakistan's tribal areas has been the scene of Taliban-linked militancy over the past couple of years.


U.S. regional envoy in Pakistan for talks on Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador James Dobbins has opened talks with the Pakistani leaders on bilateral and regional issues, focusing on the situation in Afghanistan, officials said Thursday.

It is Dobbins' first visit to Pakistan after the April 5 presidential elections in Afghanistan and officials say both sides will share thoughts about the post-NATO Afghanistan.

Ambassador Dobbins, who arrived here from Afghanistan, met the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday and exchanged views with him on a wide-range of issues. He will also meet Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif. "During the visit, views will be exchanged on the situation of Afghanistan. These meetings will also provide an opportunity to discuss bilateral relations,"Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.

Dobbins visited Islamabad in June, October and in December last year. He also accompanied Secretary of State John Kerry during the latter's visit to Pakistan in July-August 2013.


Local leader killed, two injured in S. Afghan attack

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, April 23 (Xinhua) -- A local leader was killed in an attack on his house in southern Afghan province of Helmand Wednesday night, the latest in a string of targeted killing, sources said.

"Armed men broke into the house of Sayed Bahauddin in provincial capital, killing him while injuring a woman and a child, " an health official told Xinhua anonymously.

The Taliban insurgent group has intensified attacks in spring and summer known as the fighting season in the war-torn country.

Civilians perceived to be supporting government, civilian government employees, religious leaders, tribal elders and persons involved in peace and reconciliation efforts came under attack in targeted killings.

In an unrelated incident, Ahmad Shah Waheed, a deputy of the Public Works ministry was freed from his captors during an Afghan security forces special operation in eastern Kapisa province earlier on Wednesday, an interior ministry official told Xinhua.

Waheed was kidnapped during an attack near his house in northern Afghan capital of Kabul. Motive behind the kidnapping remained unknown. But it is said that the official was taken hostage for ransom.


Afghanistan, China are friendly neighbors: Ambassador

KABUL, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Deng Xijun has described the two countries as friendly neighbors and hoped the bilateral relations would get closer in the years ahead.

"Afghanistan and China are close and friendly neighbors. Both countries are not only linked by the same mountains, but also bonded by common interests and destiny," Deng said in his address to Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS) on Wednesday.

As a friendly neighbor, the ambassador said his country consistently participated in the Afghan peace and reconstruction process over the past decade.

"China has provided to Afghanistan large amount of assistance without any preconditions, helping build projects of hospitals, schools, roads, irrigation systems and office buildings, offering a large quantity of equipments, financing more than 1,000 officials to be trained in China and provide scholarship for hundreds of students to study in China," he said.

Deng added that Beijing hopes the "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" peace process will make substantial progress at an early date, saying that China will continue to provide assistance within its own capacity through bilateral and multilateral channels, and encourage the capable Chinese companies to invest and do business in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai paid his fifth state visit to China last September, making the new historical starting point of the China-Afghanistan relationship, he said.

"China hopes to see a united, stable, developing and amicable Afghanistan and will continue to help Afghanistan improve its ability of self-development and capability building in all fields," the ambassador stressed.

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