12 killed by blast near candidate’s office on eve of Pakistan election

AFP 07 Feb 2024
12 killed by blast near candidate’s office on eve of Pakistan election

ISLAMABAD: At least 22 people were killed Wednesday in two separate bomb blasts outside the offices of election candidates in southwestern Pakistan, on the eve of a national vote marred by violence and allegations of poll rigging.

More than half a million security officers were deploying ahead of Thursday’s election, with authorities distributing ballot papers to more than 90,000 polling stations.

There have been multiple security incidents in the run-in to the vote, with at least two candidates shot dead and dozens more targeted in attacks across the country.

On Wednesday, the first improvised explosive device (IED) blast killed 12 people near the office of an independent candidate in Pishin district, around 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the city of Quetta and 100 kilometers from the Afghan border.

Caretaker information minister for Balochistan province Jan Achakzai and Quetta police said 25 people were also wounded.

A second IED detonated near the election office of a candidate for the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) party in the city of Killa Saifullah — about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east — according to Achakzai.

“At least 10 people were killed and 12 others injured,” he told AFP.

“The incident took place in the main bazaar of the city area, where the election office of the JUI-F was targeted,” a senior police official told AFP.

In July last year, 44 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a political gathering of the party in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The election has been marred by allegations of pre-poll rigging following a crackdown on the party of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan, winner of the 2018 poll, but booted out of power by a national assembly vote of no-confidence four years later.

Campaigning officially ended on Tuesday night and voting is due to begin at 8:00 am local time (0300 GMT) Thursday, closing at 5:00 pm.

The figures are staggering in a country of 240 million people — the world’s fifth most populous — with around 128 million eligible to vote. Nearly 18,000 candidates are standing for seats in the national and four provincial assemblies, with 266 seats directly contested in the former — an additional 70 reserved for women and minorities — and 749 places in the regional parliaments.

Published On: 07 Feb 2024


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