KABUL, Afghanistan - A bomb ripped through a minibus carrying female Afghan election workers and children yesterday morning outside the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing two women and injuring 13.
The bus driver was arrested, and an investigation is under way, officials said.
A man saying he was a spokesman for the Taliban called the Associated Press and took responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban and other insurgents have announced plans to disrupt the country's first elections, which are scheduled for September.
Female election workers will temporarily be restricted from moving around the country, said Jean Arnault, the United Nations special representative in Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai called the bombing "anti-Islamic" and said it aimed to spread poison in the country.
In Nangahar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital, about 600,000 people have registered, and 210,000 of those are women. Only Kabul province has registered more voters.
In Afghanistan, the sexes are traditionally segregated, whether at meals or in school. Women sign up female voters, and men sign up male voters. In some areas, female workers knock on doors to talk to women inside their homes about why they should vote.
"Their killers probably wanted to stop this momentum towards broad female participation," Arnault said. "They will not reach their goal."
The women had left Jalalabad, about 80 miles east of Kabul, to register women to vote in the nearby district of Rodad. About 8 a.m., just as the minibus passed a military corps office, the driver stopped, opened the door and tried to run. At that moment, a bomb planted in the back of the bus exploded, said Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
One of the women died immediately. Another died at the hospital. Three other women were listed in critical condition yesterday evening, as was a boy who was traveling with his mother, according to the United Nations.
The bus driver was arrested soon after the attack, said Faizanullhaq, the secretary of the province's governor, who like many Afghans goes by one name.
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