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Explosion, gunfire near Afghan presidential candidate’s residence

Police in Kabul have reported an assault near the home of Ashraf Ghani, a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections. The attack comes less than a month before Afghanistan goes to the polls.

Taliban militants carried out an assault on a building close to the home of Ashraf Ghani, one of the presidential candidates

in the upcoming April elections

. Initial reports said his residence had come under attack after explosions and gunfire were heard nearby. However, the candidate's campaign aide confirmed that suicide bombers had struck an election commission office adjacent to his residence.

"The attack was on an election office next to Dr. Ashraf Ghani's house. His house was also hit by the attacks. He is not at home, but his family is there," his aide told Reuters news agency.

The former World Bank official is seen as a frontrunner in the April 5 elections.

The Taliban also confirmed in a statement later that the election building had been its target.

Kabul police said explosions were heard mid-morning in the western Darulaman neighborhood of the capital. Security forces protecting the candidate's home then engaged in gunfire with militants still at the scene for roughly an hour.

The militant group has increased attacks in recent weeks to disrupt upcoming April 5 elections.

On Thursday, Taliban gunmen killed nine civilians during an assault on a luxury hotel in Kabul

.

Afghanistan faces a major security transition

as the withdrawal of NATO troops nears and its own security forces are left to combat continued terrorist attacks.

kms/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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