KABUL, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) -- Security remains the main concern in Afghanistan as the 11 presidential hopefuls in the scheduled April 4 elections kicked-off their two-month campaign on Feb. 2.
Ziaul Haq Omarkhil, a senior official of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) of Afghanistan, had expressed concerns over the security problems, saying"no doubt, holding elections in a war-like situation is not free of risks".
As if to emphasize the gravity of the security problem, unknown gunmen shot dead two aides of presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah on Saturday evening in the western province of Herat hours before the start of the official campaign period.
Days earlier, vice presidential candidate Mohammad Ismael Khan escaped a suicide attack also in Herat province.
Since the start of the presidential campaign Sunday, security agencies have foiled possible terror attacks after they discovered arms and ammunitions and arrested several people in many parts of the country.
Abdullah and other candidates have called on the government to ensure security and facilitate a peaceful environment for the elections.
Abdullah Abdullah was the runner-up in the disputed election of 2009 to President Hamid Karzai, who is barred from running for another term under Afghan law. Abdullah pulled out of the second round of the 2009 election because he said he feared the vote would be rigged.
Earlier, the Taliban announced that it will boycott the elections and would actively disrupt the electoral process.
Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has called on the Afghan people to turn public opinion against the election.
The Afghan presidential election comes at a time when the U.S.- led foreign troops are expected to withdraw by December 2014 and the Taliban seek a return to government.
The election is also being conducted amidst unabated cycle of violence and suicide attacks in the country.
Analysts here said that the outcome of the election will also have an impact on future Afghan-U.S. relations.
Abdullah is the only presidential candidate to publicly endorse the controversial bilateral security agreement (BSA) with the U.S. that would see thousands of American troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.
Karzai has repeatedly warned against the U.S. meddling in Afghanistan's upcoming presidential election, stressing that the presence of foreigners in the country's election watchdog is against the country's sovereignty. Two of the five members of the Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan are non-Afghan.
Karzai also refused to be pressured by Washington to sign the BSA before his term ends.
To ensure the security of the presidential candidates, the Ministry for Interior has provided three armored vehicles along with 35 police personnel to each candidate.
Allaying the security concerns, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi announced Sunday that the Interior Ministry will put in place all resources to ensure security for the campaign process up to election day and would reduce the security threats to its lowest level.
Taliban militants, who have termed the election as "waste of time,"denounced providing security to the candidates by the Ministry of Interior and warned that "no one can escape death."
Meanwhile, Asif Ashna, a political analyst here, said in a television interview that the presidential hopefuls, besides campaigning in Kabul, should campaign in the provinces and brief the people about their programs in order to enable the citizens to choose the right leader for the country for the next five years," a leader that should be made accountable."
Analyst Ayubzada emphasized the need for improved security, especially in the rural areas, saying the threat by the Taliban to disrupt the election process and harm the candidates should not be taken lightly.