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Afghan Candidates Killed On The Campaign Trail

Afghan people walk past an electoral billboard of Abdul Jabar Qahraman, a prominent Afghan politician and candidate of upcoming Parliamentary elections, after he was killed in a suicide bomb attack, in Helmand on October 17.

The run-up to Afghanistan’s October 20 parliamentary elections is taking its toll on the field.

Ten candidates have been slain, two abducted, and four wounded -- both before and after the 20-day campaign period started on September 28, according to Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC).

RFE/RL was able to verify the identities of eight of those killed.

The killings have been blamed on the Taliban and Islamic State (IS) extremist group, both of which have called for a boycott of the vote and threatened voters and candidates.

Abdul Jabar Qahraman

Abdul Jabar Qahraman
Abdul Jabar Qahraman

This outspoken lawmaker from the southern province of Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, was killed along with four others when a bomb went off inside his campaign office on October 17.

Qahraman was a general in the Soviet-backed Afghan army in the 1980s. He organized the creation of a secret militia trained by Afghan intelligence to infiltrate the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani sent Qahraman to Helmand as his special envoy in 2016 to help defeat the militant group. Qahraman later resigned. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bomb blast that killed Qahraman, whom they labeled a "a renowned communist."

Saleh Mohammad Achakzai
Saleh Mohammad Achakzai

Saleh Mohammad Achakzai

Achakzai was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside his home in Helmand’s provincial capital, Lashkargah. The 32-year-old was holding a meeting at the time of the attack, which also killed seven other people. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although officials blamed the Taliban. A local businessman and a first-time candidate, he was campaigning on a platform of "positive change."

Nasir Mubarez

Mubarez was shot by gunmen on September 25 in the southern province of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died from his wounds. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Mubarez was running as a candidate for the Kuchis, a nomadic Pashtun people. Ten seats in the 249-seat lower house of parliament are reserved for Kuchis.

Anwar Niazi

Niazi was killed in Kabul on September 2 when an improvised bomb struck his vehicle. Two others were wounded. He was a candidate from Parwan Province, just north of the capital. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack.

Jalal Salehi

Salehi was killed in Kabul’s Shakar Dara district on August 25. It was reported that he was inadvertently killed during an antimilitant operation in the area.

Hayatullah Khan Rahmani

Rahmani was killed along with three members of his family when a suicide bomber targeted his vehicle in Nangarhar Province on July 30. Rahmani was a commander of a government-backed militia fighting the Taliban and IS militants in the province.

Sayed Obaidullah Sadat

Sadat was killed by gunmen on July 14 in the southeastern province of Ghazni, a Taliban stronghold near the Pakistani border. He was a former member of the provincial council in Ghazni and served as mayor of Paktika Province. Nobody has claimed responsibility for his killing.

Awtar Singh Khalsa
Awtar Singh Khalsa

Awtar Singh Khalsa

This longtime leader of the tiny Sikh community was killed on July 1 when a suicide bomber targeted a group of Hindus and Sikhs on their way to meet the country’s president in the eastern province of Nangarhar. The attack, claimed by IS militants, killed 16 others and wounded scores more. He was the only Sikh candidate who had voiced an intention to run in the elections. The preliminary list of all candidates had been announced on June 30. Now his son, Narinder Singh, is running as a candidate. One seat in parliament is reserved for the Sikh and Hindu communities.

Watch a video of Khalsa

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    Frud Bezhan

    Frud Bezhan is the editor for Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan in the Central Newsroom at RFE/RL. Previously, he was a correspondent and reported from Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Turkey. Prior to joining RFE/RL in 2011, he worked as a freelance journalist in Afghanistan and contributed to several Australian newspapers, including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.