At least 30 people were killed and more than 40 others injured on Wednesday in twin blasts targeting election offices in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province, a day before the general elections in the coup prone country.
In the first incident, a powerful blast outside the office of independent candidate Asfandyar Khan Kakar in Pishin district killed 20 people and wounded 30 others.
Less than an hour later, another blast took place outside the election office of a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan in the Killa Abdullah area claiming the lives of 10 people and injuring 22 others, officials said.
No group or individual claimed responsibility for the twin blasts.
Abdullah Zehri, a senior police official in Balochistan Panjgur, said that the blast outside the election office of candidate Asfandyar Khan Kakar was detonated remotely and was placed in a bag outside the building.
“The condition of some of the injured is critical and they have been rushed to Quetta for treatment,” he said.
“Terrorists are targeting the election candidates to deter people from going to the polling stations but security personnel are being increased further to ensure the elections go ahead on schedule,” Mr. Zehri said.
The Election Commission of Pakistan confirmed the two blasts and said security had been further enhanced in the province for Thursday’s elections.
In a statement, Balochistan’s Home Minister Jan Achakzai condemned the attacks and announced that elections would be held as per schedule.
Pakistanis will vote on Thursday to elect a new government to rule the cash-strapped country. The front runner for the polls is former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is believed to have the backing of the powerful military.
With former Prime Minister Imran Khan in jail, Mr. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is tipped to emerge as the single largest party in the elections.
Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates are contesting the polls independently after the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the election commission to deprive his party of its iconic election symbol cricket ‘bat’.
Mr. Sharif, 74, will be eying the premiership for a record fourth time in Thursday’s election.
The contest also involves the Pakistan Peoples Party of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who has been declared as the party’s Prime Minister face.