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Kandahar, cradle of Afghan insurgency, torn by tribal rivalry ahead of vote

By Hamid Shalizi and Jessica Donati KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Growing violence in the southern province of Kandahar ahead of Afghanistan's presidential election next week highlights a rift between Pashtun tribes that could tip the country back into civil war.

Afghan election field down to eight as candidate withdraws

The grandson of Afghanistan's last king pulled out of the country's presidential race on Wednesday and backed a candidate increasingly seen as the choice of outgoing President Hamid Karzai. The withdrawal of Mohammad Nader Naeem narrows the field for the April 5 poll to eight and hints at further deal-making in the race to lead Afghanistan as NATO troops prepare to exit. Naeem, whose grandfather King Mohammed Zahir Shah was ousted in 1973 after 40 years of rule, is the third candidate to pull out and the second to endorse former foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul.

Explosion at house of Afghan presidential candidate: police

KABUL (Reuters) - An explosion and gunfire rattled the house of Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday, a senior police officer said, although Ghani was not there at the time. The Afghan capital is on high alert ahead of an April 5 presidential election which Taliban insurgents have threatened to disrupt through a campaign of bombings and assassination. "Four people entered Ashraf Ghani's house and there was an explosion followed by gunfire," the officer told Reuters.

Militants attack Kabul election office

Militants launched a gun and suicide attack on an Afghan election commission office in Kabul on Tuesday, police said, less than two weeks before the presidential poll. The Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the ballot on April 5, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the runup to election day.

Suicide attack near Afghan election office

Militants on Tuesday launched a suicide attack near an Afghan election commission office, police said, close to the Kabul home of a leading candiate for the presidential poll. The Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the ballot on April 5, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the runup to election day. Blasts were heard mid-morning in the western Darulaman area of the Afghan capital near the house of Ashraf Ghani, who is seen as a frontrunner in the race to succeed President Hamid Karzai.

Blasts heard near home of Afghan presidential candidate: witness, police

Explosions were heard Tuesday close to the Kabul home of Afghan presidential election candidate Ashraf Ghani, police and a witness said. Ghani, a former World Bank economist, is seen as a leading runner for the April 5 poll to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai. The Taliban have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the ballot on April 5, urging their fighters to attack polling staff, voters and security forces in the runup to election day.

Blasts heard near home of Afghan presidential candidate: witness, police

Two explosions were heard Tuesday close to the Kabul home of Afghan presidential election candidate Ashraf Ghani, police and a witness said. Ghani, a former World Bank economist, is seen as a leading runner for the April 5 poll, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt with violence. emh-eg/pdw/lto

Election observers pull foreign staff out of Afghanistan after hotel attack

By Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - Two major foreign election observer and support missions have pulled staff out of Afghanistan after a Taliban attack on a Kabul hotel, observers said on Sunday, in a move which could undermine confidence in the outcome of the crucial vote. The April 5 vote is less than two weeks away and could mark the country's first democratic transfer of power. Many fear a repeat of the widespread fraud that discredited the poll in 2009 when about 20 percent of votes were thrown out.

Cricket: Australia v Pakistan World T20 scoreboard

Scoreboard of the World Twenty20 Super-10 Group Two match between Australia and Pakistan in Dhaka on Sunday: Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad c and b Bollinger 5 Kamran Akmal c Warner b Coulter-Nile 31 Mohammad Hafeez b Watson 13 Umar Akmal c Maxwell b Starc 94 Sohaib Maqsood b Coulter-Nile 5 Shahid Afridi not out 20 Shoaib Malik not out 6

Cricket: Pakistan beat Australia in World Twenty20

Pakistan beat Australia by 16 runs in the World Twenty20 Super-10 Group Two match in Dhaka on Sunday. Australia made a brave attempt to surpass Pakistan's commanding 191-5 before being bowled out for 175 off the last ball of the innings at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. It was Australia's first match in the tournament, while Pakistan had lost to India on Friday. The West Indies and hosts Bangladesh are the two other teams in the group, from which the top two will advance to the semi-finals. Brief scores:
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