Election candidate kidnapped in Afghanistan

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Around 19 people, including a candidate and eight election officials, have been kidnapped in Afghanistan on the eve of a parliamentary vote which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt, an election official has said.

Independent Election Commission (IEC) spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said a candidate had been kidnapped in eastern Laghman province but the circumstances were not clear. He said eight IEC officials had been abducted in northwestern Badghis but were safe.

Noor said officials were checking reports ten campaign workers had also been abducted in the same area.

Both the Taliban and Hizb-i-Islami, an insurgent group under the leadership of warlord and former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, have criticised the elections and urged people to stay home.

Saturday's poll is the first since a fraud-marred presidential vote last year that left many of the Afghan government's international backers questioning whether they had a reliable partner in President Hamid Karzai.

Polling station lists were only released a few days before the vote because of continually changing reports from security forces about areas they could secure.

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