Blasts near Pakistan candidates' offices kill 26 on election eve

February 8, 2024 12:30 pm

A man, who was injured in a blast in Khanozai, leaves hospital after receiving treatment in Quetta, Pakistan [Source: Reuters]

Two explosions near electoral candidates’ offices in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan killed 26 people and wounded dozens on Wednesday, officials said, 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.

Article continues after advertisement

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, said that 12 people were killed and 25 wounded by a device planted on motorcycle parked near the office.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the two blasts in a message on its Telegram channel on Wednesday.

Several other groups, including the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and separatist groups from Balochistan, oppose the Pakistani state and have also 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 said 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 said more than two dozen were wounded. The deputy commissioner of Pishin district, Jumma Dad Khan, said that the blast had wounded many people.