Two bombs exploded at the election office of an independent candidate in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Wednesday, just a day before parliamentary elections. At least 26 deaths and over 24 injuries have been reported.
Balochistan has been dealing with insurgency by nationalists for over two decades, who want an independent state.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings yet.
The first blast occurred at the office of an independent election candidate in Pishin district, killing 14.
Another explosion in Qilla Saifullah, near the Afghan border, targeted an office of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), a party frequently subjected to militant attacks, leading to at least 10 fatalities, according to officials.
Over 5,00,000 security officers have been deployed for the general elections in Pakistan, as officials distributed ballot papers to more than 90,000 polling stations.
Accusations of pre-poll rigging after a crackdown on the party of former prime minister Imran Khan abound.
Khan, who won the 2018 polls, was later ousted from power by a vote of no-confidence and has been fighting a series of cases since he fell out of power in 2022. Several criminal convictions have now barred him from standing in general elections on Thursday.
The 71-year-old, currently jailed for three years, claims these are politically motivated to boot him off the ballot.
With two candidates shot dead and numerous others targeted in attacks across the country in the lead-up to Thursday, security remains a concern for the general voter.
In a country with a population of 24 crore, nearly 12.8 crore are eligible to vote.
A total of almost 18,000 candidates are competing for seats in the national and provincial assemblies, including 266 directly contested seats in the national assembly, with an additional 70 reserved for women and minorities.
There are also 749 positions in the regional parliaments.
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