Campaigning starts for Afghan presidential election
KABUL (AFP) - Afghanistan's election campaign kicks off on Sunday as the killing of a presidential candidate's aides highlighted the threat surrounding the poll to succeed Mr Hamid Karzai, with Nato combat troops due to withdraw by year end.
Gunmen shot dead two aides of Mr Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister seen as a strong contender, in the western city of Herat on Saturday, officials said.
The attack comes as the country prepares for its first democratic transfer of power, with the April 5 election viewed as a key test of the effectiveness of the 350,000-strong Afghan security force as foreign troops prepare to exit the country.
A dispute between Kabul and Washington over whether a small force of US soldiers stays behind beyond 2014 is likely to dominate the campaign.