Mon, Apr 29, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Bomb attacks mar campaign for landmark elections

AFP, PESHAWAR, Pakistan

Two bomb attacks yesterday targeting the offices of election candidates in northwest Pakistan killed at least eight people, officials said, the latest bloodshed ahead of polls next month.

Violence has marred the campaign for the landmark May 11 general election, with more than 50 people dead in blasts and suicide attacks since April 11, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.

Five people died and 22 were wounded yesterday in a blast at the office of an independent candidate in the garrison city of Kohat, adjacent to Pakistan’s restive tribal areas along the Afghan border.

A blast at the offices of another independent candidate in Peshawar killed three people and wounded 13, officials said.

The Kohat blast came at the campaign office of Noor Akbar Khan, who is running in the Orakzai tribal district.

Fazal Naeem, a police spokesman in Kohat, confirmed the attack and told reporters the blast had damaged shops and vehicles nearby and also hit an office of the Awami National Party (ANP), which has been targeted repeatedly by the Pakistani Taliban.

On Saturday three blasts in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and commercial heart, killed at least three people and wounded 49.

Two of the bombs hit the offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which along with the ANP were coalition partners in the outgoing PPP-led national government.

The Pakistani Taliban has targeted the three parties, which are perceived as secular and backed military operations against the Islamists.

As a result of the threats, there have been few large-scale political rallies leading to a lackluster campaign for the elections.

Amnesty International has called on Pakistan to investigate the recent wave of attacks and ensure adequate protection for election candidates.

Next month’s polls could 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.

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