- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004


KABUL, Afghanistan — A bomb tore through a bus carrying female election workers yesterday on their way to register women for the country’s first post-Taliban vote, killing two of them and injuring 13 others.

It was the bloodiest attack yet in a string of violence targeting election workers, aimed at sabotaging the September vote. A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing and blamed “enemies of peace and prosperity” in Afghanistan. He urged voters not to be intimidated.

U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said two women were killed, and 11 women and two children were wounded in the attack on the outskirts of the city of Jalalabad, 75 miles east of Kabul. The bus was taking the group of election workers to register women voters in an outlying district.

Four of the injured were in critical condition, including a child who was traveling with his mother. The bomb was believed planted inside the bus.

The driver fled just before the blast but was later arrested and was in Afghan custody, the U.N. spokesman said.

Abdul Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said the bomb was detonated by remote control, and threatened more violence.

“We will not forgive any man or woman who is supporting U.S. policies. We will continue this kind of attack to make sure the elections fail,” he said in a telephone call from an undisclosed location.

Mr. de Almeida e Silva said the movement of female election staff was restricted after the attack as the security situation was assessed, but registration of women voters was continuing “wherever possible.”

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