KABUL (AFP) - Incumbent Hamid Karzai widened his lead in the race for the Afghan presidency in new results unveiled Wednesday from an election marked by fraud and Taliban intimidation. Officials have now announced results from 17 per cent of counted votes cast in the second ever direct presidential vote in a country riven by Taliban bloodshed and simmering ethnic tension, eight years after the US-led invasion. A massive bombing in Afghanistans biggest city in the south, where the Taliban are strong and turnout was low, killed 43 people on Tuesday. The deadliest bombing in over a year, it pointed to the success of Taliban intimidation. Of nearly a million ballots so-far counted, the Western-backed Karzai had 422,137 votes or 42.3pc with ex-foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah on 330,751 votes or 33.1pc, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) said. To avoid a potentially divisive second round run-off, one candidate must win an outright majority of 50pc plus one vote. The first results released from last weeks ballot had put Karzai neck and neck with Abdullah, who led a strong campaign for change and has alleged that widespread state engineered fraud has damaged the vote. The IEC will trickle out results on a daily basis, but the final result is not expected until next month and can only be certified after an independent commission has investigated around 790 claims of abuses on election day. Figures released to AFP by Karzais campaign office put him on track to win between 55 and 62pc of the vote, but with turnout at less than 5.5m of up to 17m registered to vote. The race between the two increasingly bitter rivals has been tainted with claims of fraud and ballot box-stuffing, most of it in favour of Karzai, whose camp has been claiming victory since shortly after polls closed. Analysts have said that low turnout - potentially less than 35pc and one of the aims of the Taliban intimidation campaign - could raise questions about the legitimacy of the victor, possibly leading to unrest.