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Czech troops killed in Afghan blast

At least 16 people, including four Czech soldiers, have been killed in a suicide attack near a clinic in eastern Afghanistan.

The Czech ministry of defence said 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 four 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 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 Mr Ahmadzai was locked in a stand-off with Mr 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".

US 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 US financial and security support.

Mr 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 Mr Ahmadzai had about 4.5 million votes, or 56%, while Mr Abdullah had 3.5 million votes, or 44%, according to the commission. Turnout was more than 50%, IEC spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor said.

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