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Suicide bomber kills police at Kabul's interior ministry ahead of Afghanistan elections

A suicide bomber dressed in military uniform has killed police officers at Afghanistan's Interior Ministry. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, days ahead of presidential elections.

At least six police officers were killed on Wednesday when the suicide bomber blew himself up near the gate of the heavily fortified ministry, one of the capital city Kabul's most closely-guarded buildings.

"The bomber wanted to enter the ministry compound, was recognized by the guards, but managed to detonate his explosives before the guards could arrest or shoot him," Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

Within minutes of the bomb going off, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. Shortly before, he had issued a statement warning of more violence in the lead-up to the United States-backed presidential elections scheduled for Saturday. The attack coincided with the last day of campaigning for presidential candidates.

Citizens are due to vote for a successor to President Hamid Karzai in a vote which is seen as a measure of progress since the Taliban was removed from power by a US-led coalition in 2001.

High-profile attacks

Wednesday's suicide bombing is the latest in a series of high-profile attacks by Taliban militants, who are intent on disrupting the election process and scaring voters away.

Earlier in the day Afghan officials reported that nine people, including provincial council candidate Hussain Nazari, were shot dead after being kidnapped in the northern province of Sar-e-Pul.

On Saturday, five Taliban militants attacked the Kabul headquarters of the Independent Election Commission. All five were killed by Afghan security forces about six hours after the attack began.

se/hc (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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