Two bomb attacks on election offices kill 26 in Pakistan on the eve of the elections

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Two bomb attacks on the election offices of a political party and an independent candidate in southwest Pakistan killed at least 26 people and injured more than two dozen others, officials said Wednesday. , on the eve of the legislative elections.

The first attack hit the Asfandyar Khan election office in Pashin, a district in Balochistan province, said Jan Achakzai, a provincial government spokesperson. Authorities said at least 15 people were killed in the attack and the injured were taken to a nearby hospital. Police said some of them were in critical condition.

Later on Wednesday, another bomb attack on the election office of politician Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) party in Balochistan’s Qilla Saifullah town killed at least 11 people, Acahkzai and local authorities said .

The JUI is one of the main radical Islamist parties and is known for its support of the Afghan Taliban. JUI religious schools are spread across the country, particularly in the northwest and in Balochistan, bordering Afghanistan. Many Afghan Taliban leaders have studied at Islamic seminaries run by the JUI, but Rehman and his party’s leaders have come under attack in recent years by the Islamic State group and other militants.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred a day before parliamentary elections in Pakistan. Acting Interior Minister Gohar Ijaz denounced the attacks.

The attack took place despite the deployment of tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces across Pakistan to ensure peace following a recent surge in militant attacks in the country, particularly in Balochistan.

Low-level insurgency

The banned Balochistan Liberation Army is behind multiple attacks on security forces in Balochistan, on the border of Afghanistan and Iran. On January 30, a Balochistan Liberation Army separatist group attacked security installations in Mach district, killing six people.

In recent years, Pakistan has struggled to contain rising militancy, particularly in the former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups also have a strong presence in the province.

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The gas-rich province of Balochistan, located on the border of Afghanistan and Iran, has been the scene of a low-intensity insurgency by Baloch nationalists for more than two decades. Baloch nationalists initially wanted to get a share of provincial resources, but later launched an insurgency 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 speaking at a election rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. His son, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, led the campaign for his Pakistan People’s Party until Tuesday evening, amid tight security.

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