On Eve of Pakistan Elections, Blasts at Party Offices Kill 26

Pakistan's caretaker PM says government is committed to holding elections in peace
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2024 5:48 AM CST
On Eve of Pakistan Elections, Blasts at Party Offices Kill 26
Security officials examine the scene of a bomb blast in Khanozai, Pashin, a district of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.   (AP Photo/Shah Hussain)

A pair of bombings at the election offices of a political party and an independent candidate in southwest Pakistan killed at least 26 people and wounded more than two dozen others, officials said Wednesday, the day before parliamentary elections are to be held, per the AP. The first attack hit the election office of Asfandyar Khan in Pashin, a district in Baluchistan province, said Jan Achakzai, the spokesperson for the provincial government. Officials said at least 15 people were killed in the attack and the wounded are being transported to a nearby hospital. Police said some of them were listed in critical condition.

Later Wednesday, another bombing at the elections office of politician Fazlur Rehman's Jamiat Ulema Islam party in Qilla Saifullah town of Baluchistan killed at least 11 people, Acahkzai and local authorities said. JUI is a leading radical Islamist party and is known for backing the Afghan Taliban. JUI's religious schools are spread across the country, especially in the northwest and Baluchistan, bordering Afghanistan. Many of Afghanistan's Taliban leaders studied at Islamic seminaries operated by JUI, yet Rehman and his party leaders in recent years have been attacked by the Islamic State and other militants. Rehman and scores of candidates from his party are contesting the elections from various parts of Pakistan.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came despite the deployment of tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces across Pakistan. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul-Haq-Kakar denounced the bombings in Baluchistan, and conveyed his condolences to the families of those who died. He vowed that "every attempt to sabotage the law and order situation will be thwarted." Kakar said the government is committed to holding elections in a peaceful environment. Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz also denounced the bombings, saying no one would be allowed to sabotage the election process. (More Pakistan stories.)

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