Saturday, March 2, 2024

Explosions near Pakistan candidates’ offices kill several on election eve

Two blasts near electoral candidates' offices in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan killed 26 people and wounded dozens on Wednesday, officials confirmed, raising concerns over security on the eve of a general election.

Pakistan goes to the polls on Thursday amid rising militant attacks and the jailing of Imran Khan, the winner of the last national election, who has been dominating the headlines despite an economic crisis and other woes threatening the nuclear-armed country.

Authorities have said they are boosting security at polling booths.

The first attack, which killed 14 people, took place at the office of an independent election candidate in Pishin district.

The second explosion in Qilla Saifullah, near the Afghan border, detonated near an office of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), a religious party that has previously been the target of militant attacks, according to the province’s information minister.

The deputy commissioner of Qilla Saifullah, Yasir Bazai, stated that 12 people were killed and 25 wounded by a device planted on motorcycle parked near the office.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks. Several groups, including the militant Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and separatist groups from Balochistan, oppose the Pakistani state and have carried out attacks in recent months.

A TTP spokesman claimed an attack on Monday that killed 10 people at a police station in northwest Pakistan. The TTP has added it was targeting police and security officials rather than electoral candidates.

Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement its western border crossings with Iran and Afghanistan would close and re-open on Friday to ensure security during the election.

Khanzai hospital, close to the site of the explosion in Pishin on Wednesday, put the death toll at 14 and stated more than two dozen were wounded.

The deputy commissioner of Pishin district, Jumma Dad Khan, added that the blast had wounded many people.

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