Elections postponed in Afghanistan's Kandahar after top officials' assassination

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Kabul : The Afghan government on Friday delayed October 20 parliamentary elections by one week in Kandahar province after the provincial police chief and intelligence chief were assassinated by the Taliban.

A spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani announced that the National Security Council decided in a special meeting that Saturday's polls would be suspended as recommended by provincial leaders and the National Election Commission, Khaama Press reported.

Thursday's brazen attack, claimed by the Taliban, was aimed at a meeting of senior US military and Afghan leaders in Kandahar city.

General Austin "Scott" Miller, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, escaped unharmed in the attack, but Kandahar police commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Razik and provincial intelligence chief Abdul Momin lost their lives.

Kandahar province Governor Zalmai Wesa was hospitalised with severe injuries.

The Taliban has vowed to "severely disrupt" the polls, in which some 2,500 candidates are running for 249 seats in the Afghan Parliament. Ten of those candidates have been killed in pre-election violence, along with more than 100 other Afghans.

The militant group said it will block roads to prevent voters from reaching the polling stations. The insurgents allege that the elections are aimed at legitimizing the presence of foreign troops in the country.

"The Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) intend to close all major and minor roads of the country during election day. Hence all countrymen should remain indoors and desist from bringing out any means of transport," the rebels said in a statement.

The insurgents also stressed that all Afghans "especially city dwellers" should refrain from voting on Saturday.

"Participation in this process is aiding the invaders and helping them in the implementation of their plots, all of which are unlawful religiously and in conflict with our national values and interests," the statement added.

In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed dozens of attacks on electoral workers and candidates.

According to the poll body, out of the 7,384 voting centres that fall in Taliban territory, 2,384 will remain closed on election day.