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Afghanistan

Campaign aides of Afghan presidential candidate shot dead

Two aides to Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah have been assassinated. Their deaths come on the eve of the beginning of two months of election campaigning.

A campaign spokesman said the two campaign workers were killed on Saturday evening as they left their office in the western province of Herat.

"I can confirm that armed men killed Dr [Ahmad] Hamdard, who was to lead our election campaign team in Herat, along with another team member in Herat city this evening," said Sayed Fazel Sangcharaki.

Police also confirmed the incident.

"Unfortunately two people, namely Ahmad Hamdard and Shujahideen, were killed in the fourth district of Herat city this evening. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on them in the middle of the street," said Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, a police spokesman.

Their deaths come as presidential hopefuls in Afghanistan kick off their election campaign on Sunday. The poll could deliver the first peaceful transfer of power since the Taliban were ousted by the US-led coalition in 2001, and comes as NATO combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.

Eleven candidates are vying to succeed the incumbent President Hamid Karzai. Laborers can be seen above printing posters of the candidates at a printing press in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul.

jr/kms AFP, AP)