Afghan security forces and municipality workers at the site of an attack in Kabul. Deadly violence marred the start of Afghanistan's election season after President Ashraf Ghani insisted 'peace is coming' to the war-torn nation. Photo: AFP/Noorullah Shirzada

An Afghan journalist wounded by a roadside bomb as he headed home from work has died, officials said Wednesday, as candidates standing in this weekend’s presidential election campaigned for the last time.

Abdul Hamid Hotaki, a news presenter for a local radio station in Kandahar, was caught by a blast near a campaign office for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani late Tuesday.

Provincial spokesman Baheer Ahmadi said Hotaki and seven other civilians were rushed to hospital, but died hours later.

Four people died in the blast – including a child – Afghanistan’s interior ministry said, blaming the Taliban for the bombing.

Afghans head to the polls Saturday to decide whether Ghani, who was elected in 2014, should be awarded a second term. As in the past, however, the election has been marred by deadly violence.

Another blast also hit a Ghani campaign office in Lashkar Gah in the southern province of Helmand on Wednesday, wounding at least three people, the local police chief spokesman said.

Neither blast was immediately claimed by the Taliban, though the insurgents have previously warned Afghans not to vote in the election and said their fighters would target election campaigns as well as polling stations.

The first day of campaigning saw the Taliban target Ghani’s running-mate Amrullah Saleh in an attack that killed 20 people in July. Last week another 26 people were killed in the central province of Parwan near Kabul when the Taliban targeted a Ghani rally.

The election season officially ended at midnight Wednesday, before polls open Saturday morning. Afghanistan is considered one of the world’s deadliest places for journalists.

At least 15 Afghan journalists and media workers were killed in 2018, making it the deadliest year for the country on record, according to Reporters Without Borders.

AFP’s chief photographer in Afghanistan, Shah Marai, was among 25 people killed along with eight other journalists in a bomb attack in April 2018.


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