Two bombings at election offices killed 26 people in Pakistan the day before the elections

At least 26 people were killed and more than twenty others were injured in two bombings targeting the election offices of a political party and an independent candidate in southwestern Pakistan, officials announced Wednesday, a day before the parliamentary elections.

Jan Achakzai, spokesman for the provincial government, said that the first attack hit Asfandyar Khan’s election office in Pashin district of Balochistan province. Officials said that at least 15 people were killed in the attack, and the wounded were being transferred to a nearby hospital. Police said some of them were in critical condition.

Later on Wednesday, another bombing at the election office of politician Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party in the town of Qila Saifullah in Balochistan killed at least 11 people, Akahekzai and local authorities said.

The Jamaat-e-Islami Society is one of the leading extremist Islamic parties and is known for supporting the Afghan Taliban. Joy University’s religious schools are spread throughout the country, especially in the northwest and Balochistan on the border with Afghanistan. Many Afghan Taliban leaders studied at Islamic seminaries run by the JUI, but in recent years Rehman and his party leaders have come under attack by ISIS and other militants.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came a day before parliamentary elections in Pakistan. Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ijaz condemned the bombings.

The bombing came despite the deployment of tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces across Pakistan to ensure peace in the wake of the recent escalation of armed attacks in the country, especially in Balochistan.

Low-level rebellion

The outlawed Balochistan Liberation Army was behind multiple attacks on security forces in Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. On January 30, a separatist group affiliated with the Balochistan Liberation Army attacked security facilities in the Mach district of Balochistan, killing six people.

In recent years, Pakistan has struggled to rein in rising militancy, especially in the former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban and other armed groups have a strong presence in the region.

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The gas-rich province of Balochistan, located on the border between Afghanistan and Iran, has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baloch nationalists for more than two decades. Baloch nationalists initially wanted a share of the province’s resources, but later began a rebellion for independence.

Violence before elections and on polling day is common in Pakistan. In one of the worst attacks of its kind, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack in 2007, just minutes after addressing an election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Her son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, led the election campaign for the Pakistan People’s Party, which she leads, until Tuesday evening, amid tight security measures.

(Tags for translation) Elections

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