At least 10 people were killed and 17 wounded when a car bomb exploded near a secular party’s election office in Pakistan’s commercial hub, Karachi, late on Friday, officials said, in the latest violence ahead of historic polls next month.
The powerful explosion went off as a candidate for the Pashtun-dominated Awami National Party prepared to address a corner meeting in the city’s poor western neighborhood of Mominabad, local police officer Mohammad Khan said.
Bashir Jan, who is standing for election in the national parliament, escaped unhurt, said Qadir Khan, a member of his party.
The blast was heard from several kilometers away and damaged nearby shops and houses, witnesses said, while police added that about 10 cars and a dozen motorcycles were destroyed.
“It was huge blast, I thought it was an earthquake,” resident Gul Ahmed said. “We rushed out and saw smoke, there was blood everywhere at the blast site. We put the casualties in the private cars and ambulances.”
Karachi police spokesman Imran Shaukat described the bomb as an improvised explosive device planted in a Suzuki car.
Hospital officials said 10 people were killed and 17 wounded.
“We have received seven bodies and 12 wounded people,” Dr Nisar Ahmed at the Civil Hospital said.
Separately, two dead bodies were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, Dr Mashhood Ahmed said, addding that five wounded had also been admitted to his hospital.
One body was brought to Jinnah Hospital, Dr Khalil Ahmed said.
Khan quoted Jan as saying he would continue his election campaign undeterred.
Friday’s blast was the second to hit the port city in less than 24 hours. Five people were killed on on Thursday when a bomb exploded outside the office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, police said.
The Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement were coalition partners in the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party-led government and have been been threatened by the Taliban for backing military operations against the Islamists.
The three parties are perceived as secular.
Deadly attacks targeting politicians or political parties have killed 44 people since April 11, according to a media tally.
National polls on May 11 should see power pass from a civilian government that has served a full term to another through the ballot box for the first time in the country’s turbulent history.