Afghan health workers lift the shrouded body of a child in the hospital after a suicide attack Tuesday in Parwan province, Afghanistan. Four foreign soldiers are among more than a dozen people killed today in a suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan. The Czech Ministry of Defense says the four troops killed were from the Czech Republic. (Rahmat Gul / AP)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — An Afghan official says that at least 16 people, including four Czech soldiers, were killed Tuesday in a suicide attack near a clinic in eastern Afghanistan.
The Czech Ministry of Defense said Tuesday four Czech troops were killed and another was badly wounded after the blast. The ministry said it will release more details later in the day.
Wahid Seddiqi, spokesman for the provincial governor of Parwan province said the soldiers, at least 10 civilians, and two police officers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked Afghan and foreign forces near Charakar, the provincial capital.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the media.
The violence came as Afghanistan was mired in an electoral crisis after one of the candidates in the presidential elections, Abdullah Abdullah, refused to accept any results until millions of ballots are audited for fraud.
Afghan officials released preliminary election results Monday showing former finance minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well in the lead for the presidency but said no winner could be declared because millions of ballots were being audited for fraud.
The announcement came as Ahmadzai was locked in a standoff with Abdullah, who has refused to accept any results until all fraudulent ballots are invalidated. A spokesman for his campaign rejected the results and called the decision to release them “a coup.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said during a visit to Tokyo that any action to seize power illegally in Afghanistan would lead to the end of U.S. financial and security support.
Kerry said suggestions of a “parallel government” in Afghanistan are a grave concern and added that he expected Afghan electoral institutions to conduct a full review of all reasonable allegations of irregularities. He said there was no justification for violence or threats of extralegal action.
The Independent Election Commission acknowledged that vote rigging had occurred and said ballots from about 7,000 more of the nearly 23,000 polling stations would be audited.
The results showed that Ghani had about 4.5 million votes, or 56 percent, while Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44 percent, according to the commission. Turnout was more than 50 percent, IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.