MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan (AP) — A pair of bombs targeting the offices of candidates running in this weekend’s election killed three people Friday in northwest Pakistan, the latest attacks in what has been a bloody campaign.
At least 130 people have been killed in attacks on candidates and party workers since the beginning of April. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, saying the country’s democracy runs counter to Islam.
Intelligence officials said the latest bombings occurred in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area and a key sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban. Fifteen others were wounded in the attacks, according to intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
No one has claimed responsibility, and it was unclear exactly which candidates were targeted since several have offices in the block where the explosions occurred.
The Taliban have mainly targeted candidates and workers from secular parties, raising concern the violence could benefit hard-line Islamists and others who take a soft line toward the militants because they are able to campaign more freely.
Also on Friday, unknown assailants threw a grenade at the main office of the secular Pakistan People’s Party in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, wounding five people, said police spokesman Fayyaz Sumbal. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
Baluchistan is home to both Islamic militants and separatist insurgents who want to break away from Pakistan. The separatists have been staging attacks against candidates and party workers in an attempt to hamper Saturday’s election.
The vote is historic because it will mark the first time that a civilian government has completed its full five-year term and transferred power in democratic elections.
On Thursday, gunmen abducted the son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani as he was leaving an election event in the central Pakistani city of Multan. There has been no claim of responsibility for the abduction of 25-year-old Ali Haider Gilani, but suspicion has fallen on the Taliban. The son is running for a provincial assembly seat under the banner of the PPP, one of the parties that have been targeted by the militants.
AP writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta contributed.