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By Hashmat Baktash and Shashank Bengali, Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide car bomber set off his explosives at the entrance to the northern Afghanistan province of Panjshir on Thursday, killing at least 12 other people and injuring more than 20 others, officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred as Afghan officials finalize results from last month’s presidential election. Taliban insurgents have sought to derail the election, with little success so far.

Abdul Rahman Kabiri, governor of Panjshir, said a suicide bomber detonated a Toyota sedan laden with explosives about 5 p.m. in Dalan Sang, the entrance to the mountainous province. The blast killed six civilians, four police officers and two intelligence officers, Kabiri said.

Three cars that were waiting to pass through the checkpoint were damaged, and the civilians inside them were wounded, he said.

Violent incidents have been relatively rare in Panjshir, a stronghold of Taliban resistance dating to the 1990s and home of the iconic ethnic Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, the late commander of the forces known as the Northern Alliance. A former aide to Massoud, Abdullah Abdullah, is the front-runner in the presidential election, having won approximately 45 percent of the vote in preliminary results announced last week.

Abdullah is expected to face the second-place finisher, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, in a run-off contest after election officials adjudicate claims of voting fraud and announce the final vote tallies later this month.

AFP Photo/Noorullah Shirzada

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