Afghan suicide blast kills 4 NATO troops

Afghan villagers stand at the site of an attack in Parwan province July 8, 2014


Last Updated Jul 8, 2014 10:49 AM EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An Afghan official said 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 confirmed that four Czech troops were killed and another was badly wounded in the blast.

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."

Abdullah told his supporters that President Obama had called him personally Tuesday morning to inform him that Secretary of State John Kerry would visit Kabul at the end of the week on Friday to solve the ongoing election crisis and he should not take any decision at the moment.

National Security Council press secretary Caitlyn Hayden confirmed to CBS News Tuesday in a written statement that Mr. Obama had called Abdullah, but not that Kerry was planning to travel to Afghanistan.

"Building on the outreach that Secretary Kerry has made in recent days to both candidates, the President spoke last night to Dr. Abdullah as part of ongoing efforts to engage the candidates to call for calm and dialogue," said Hayden. "He made clear the White House expects a thorough review of all reasonable allegations of fraud and that there is no justification for resorting to violent or extra-constitutional measures."

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.

The top U.S. diplomat said suggestions of a "parallel government" in Afghanistan were 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.

CBS News' Mukhtar Ahmad reported that, apparently under presser from the Obama administration, Abdullah stopped short Tuesday of announcing plans to try and form a parallel government to challenge any administration set up by Ghani.

Hayden acknowledged the "serious allegations of fraud" raised by Abdullah and others in Afghanistan, and said those concerns "have yet to be adequately investigated."

"We reiterate that the preliminary results are not final or authoritative and may not predict the final outcome, which could still change based on the findings of the Afghan electoral bodies. We continue to urge the candidates to maintain calm among their supporters," she said.

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.