Armed men on a motorbike have shot dead a senior election official in northern Afghanistan, raising fears that the presidential vote due in April next year will trigger a surge in violence.
Amanullah Aman, the head of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kunduz province, was killed by unknown assailants outside his home in Kunduz city.
He was the first election official killed since candidate nominations opened on Monday. All potential runners in the wide-open race to succeed President Hamid Karzai must declare themselves by October 6.
“Aman was shot dead in the morning in front of his house as he was leaving for his office,” Kunduz provincial spokesman Enayatullah Khaliq told AFP news agency.
“Two men on motorcycles opened fire on his car and severely wounded him, he later died in the hospital.”
The deputy police chief Ebadullah Talwar confirmed the death, adding that Aman was murdered in Kunduz city when he was going grocery shopping was not accompanied by any bodyguards.
Kunduz is in the more peaceful north of Afghanistan, but it is a hotbed of Taliban activity.
The province, which borders Tajikistan, is also a major route for drug trafficking and has a volatile mix of rival ethnic tribes and armed groups.
Taliban rebels, who are opposed to the elections, have often targeted government officials across the country.