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Pakistan deny Afghan claim of attack on Abdullah Abdullah

Pakistan on Monday rejected Afghan claims it was linked to an attack on presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah last week that left 12 people dead ahead of an election run-off.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday rejected Afghan claims it was linked to an attack on presidential front-runner Abdullah Abdullah last week that left 12 people dead ahead of an election run-off.

The denial came a day after Kabul accused "foreign intelligence services" -- a thinly veiled reference to Islamabad -- of being behind the two blasts, including a suicide bombing.

"We firmly reject any insinuation of Pakistan's involvement in the attack," Pakistan's foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said in a statement.

Abdullah survived the assassination attempt, which happened on Friday. The attack triggered strong international condemnation, including from the United States and the UN Security Council.

The National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, had said the foreign agency had acted "through Lashkar-e-Taiba in an organised manner, and the terrorists were aiming to disrupt the election in Afghanistan".

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is a Pakistan-based militant group.

"Pakistan is deeply disappointed by these irresponsible allegations as they serve to vitiate the positive environment created between the two countries through constructive efforts over the past many months," Aslam said.

Afghanistan has made similar claims following major attacks in the past, including the assault on the Serena Hotel that killed nine people in March.

Aslam said: "The latest allegations fall in the familiar pattern of certain elements in Afghanistan sparing no occasion to malign Pakistan and its security institutions and shifting the blame to others for their own security failures.

"We are sure that neither the Afghan people, nor the international community, would be misled by these motivated allegations," she added.

Afghanistan is in the middle of elections to choose a successor to Karzai, who has ruled since the fall of the 1996-2001 Taliban regime, with the run-off vote scheduled for June 14.

Pakistan was the main supporter of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad's powerful intelligence services.

Many Afghan Taliban leaders seek shelter in Pakistan, and Islamabad's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency is often accused of maintaining ties to the militants to ensure future influence in Afghanistan after US-led NATO troops withdraw.

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