Afghanistan attacks kill at least 27

At least 27 people were killed on Monday in three separate attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan, according to media reports quoting Afghan provincial officials and police.

President Karzai registers for re-election

An Afghan policeman looks at a damaged vehicle following a suicide attack in Laghman province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday. ((Associated Press))
At least 27 people were killed on Monday in three separate attacks in southern and eastern Afghanistan, according to media reports quoting Afghan provincial officials and police.

The attacks came on the same day as Afghan President Hamid Karzai registered as a candidate for the country's August presidential election.

In Monday's bloodiest incident, 12 civilians, including two children, were killed by a roadside bomb in the Shamolzai district of southern Zabul province, Reuters quoted Mohammad Wazir, district chief of Shamolzai, as saying.

The blast was followed by an ambush on an Afghan security convoy in another area of the province that killed six security guards and two civilians, according to provincial officials.

Also on Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up next to the mayor of Mehterlam, capital of eastern Laghman province, killing seven.

Among the victims were the mayor, his nephew, two bodyguards and two villagers, said Edayutullah Qalanderzai, the deputy provincial governor.

The provincial governor's office said the bomber was identified as a 14-year-old boy.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, although they bore the hallmarks of the Taliban insurgency that is expected to step up its campaign of violence in the coming weeks.

Karzai drops V-P in favour of warlord

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, centre, speaks to media as his first vice-presidential candidate Mohammad Qasim Fahim, left, and his second vice-presidential canddiate, Karim Khalili, look on in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday. ((Musadeq Sadeq/Associated Press))

Karzai, who was first elected president in 2004 after serving in the role since 2002, selected a powerful warlord and former top political leader as his new vice-presidential running mate.

Wearing his trademark green and purple cloak, Karzai said Monday he wanted to run again "to be at the service of the Afghan people," though he acknowledged that there have been "some mistakes" during his current five-year term as president.

Karzai's popularity has waned somewhat in recent years, as civilian casualties caused by international military forces have increased and charges of government corruption persist. But so far no candidates who could challenge Karzai's hold on power have registered for the Aug. 20 election.

One possible challenger, Gov. Gul Agha Sherzai of Nangarhar province, withdrew his name over the weekend following a four-hour meeting with Karzai.

In selecting Mohammad Qasim Fahim as one of his two vice-presidential running mates, Karzai kicked First Vice-President Ahmad Zia Massood off the ticket.

Massood is the brother of the revered Ahmad Shah Massood, the leader of the Northern Alliance and avowed enemy of the Taliban regime who was assassinated by al-Qaeda two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

A spokesman for Sherzai said Massood would have run alongside Sherzai before the Nangarhar governor withdrew.

Another possible challenger, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the country's former foreign minister, has said he will run but has not yet filed paperwork. Candidates for president have until Friday to register.

The Afghan constitution says that the country's presidential vote was to have been held sometime this spring, but the Afghan election commission pushed back the date to August, saying it needed time to prepare logistics and for the country's security situation to improve.

With files from The Associated Press