Asia

Deadly bombings strike Pakistan the day before parliamentary elections

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Paramilitary soldiers stand guard on the side of a road for security, ahead of Feb. 8 general elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

Fareed Khan/AP

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Fareed Khan/AP

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard on the side of a road for security, ahead of Feb. 8 general elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

Fareed Khan/AP

QUETTA, Pakistan — A pair of bombings at the election offices of a political party and an independent candidate in southwest Pakistan killed at least 24 people and wounded more than two dozen others, officials said Wednesday, the day before parliamentary elections are to be held.

The first attack happened in Pashin, a district in Baluchistan province, said Jan Achakzai, the spokesperson for the provincial government. Officials said at least 14 people were killed in the attack and the wounded are being transported to a nearby hospital. Police said some of them were listed in critical condition.

Later Wednesday, another bombing at the elections office of politician Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema Islam party in Qilla Saifullah town of Baluchistan killed at least 10 people, Acahkzai and local authorities said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, which came a day before Pakistan holds parliamentary elections. Caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz denounced the bombings.

The bombing came 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, especially in Baluchistan.

The outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army has been behind multiple attacks on security forces in Baluchistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran. On Jan. 30, a separatist Baluchistan Liberation Army group attacked security facilities in Baluchistan’s Mach district, killing six people.

In recent years, Pakistan has struggled to rein in surging militancy, especially in the former stronghold of Pakistan Taliban. Militants have a presence in Baluchistan, and have targeted civilians in recent years.

The gas-rich Baluchistan province at the border of Afghanistan and Iran has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists for more than two decades. Baluch nationalists initially wanted a share of the provincial resources, but later they initiated an insurgency for independence.

Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups also have a strong presence in the province.