ISLAMABAD: At least 30 people were killed and more than
in Pakistan’s restive southwestern
province on Wednesday, a day before the country goes into high-stake general elections marred by violence and claims of pre-poll rigging.
The bomb attacks took place despite the deployment of half-a-million security personnel to thwart violence on the eve of elections to national and provincial legislatures.
The first explosion occurred in front of the election office of an Independent candidate, Asfandyar Khan, in Khanozai tehsil of Pishin district, bordering Afghanistan. Dr Habib Kakar, a medical superintendent at a local government-run hospital, said 14 bodies and 23 injured were brought to the facility. Later, he said that the death toll had risen to 18 after four wounded people succumbed to injuries. The condition of seven, Kakar said, was critical and they were airlifted to Quetta, the provincial capital, for better treatment.
Footage aired on media forums showed rescuers and locals shifting the bodies and the injured into ambulances.
Jumma Dad Mandokhail, the district’s top civilian official, said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device attached to a motorcycle. A good number of supporters of an Independent candidate had gathered outside his office when the explosive was detonated.
Shortly after, another bomb went off near the election office of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) in Balochistan’s Qilla Saifullah, killing 12 people and injuring 15 others. JUI-F is a rightwing party that had previously been the target of terrorist attacks.
Balochistan information minister Jan Achakzai said the attacks were the latest attempt by terrorists to sabotage elections. “But I want to make it clear that the elections will go ahead as scheduled,” Achakzai added.
The run-up to polls saw frequent militant attacks on security forces and political workers in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the northwest. The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) has been behind most attacks on security forces in the volatile province. Last week, at least 15 people were killed when BLA targeted military and security installations in Balochistan’s Mach district. Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups also have a strong presence in the province, bordering Iran and Afghanistan.