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12 killed in Pakistan campaign violence

Bomb attacks target the convoy of one candidate and the election offices of two others in northwestern Pakistan.

April 28, 2013|By Alex Rodriguez and Zulfiqar Ali, Los Angeles Times
  • A Pakistani man looks at debris in the destroyed office of an election candidate after a bombing in the city of Kohat.
A Pakistani man looks at debris in the destroyed office of an election candidate… (Basit Gilani / AFP/Getty…)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — At least 12 people were killed and 43 injured Sunday in bomb blasts targeting a candidate's convoy and the election offices of two others in northwestern Pakistan. They were the latest in a series of terrorist strikes that have cast a shadow over parliamentary voting scheduled for mid-May.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has been rocked by bombings directed primarily at candidates and backers of three liberal, secular parties, including President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, which has led the civilian government for the last five years.

The bombings have occurred almost daily, and have included attacks on candidates' headquarters, on small political gatherings and on the candidates as they drive from one campaign event to another. Several weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban had warned that it would attack candidates and leaders of the three secular parties because it regards them as enemies of Islam.

Taliban leaders have claimed responsibility for many of the recent attacks, including those on Sunday.

Two of the latest bombings targeted independent candidates from the country's tribal region along the Afghan border. The area is home to a wide array of militant groups, including the Taliban, which has been waging war for years against the Pakistani government and military.

One of the bombings occurred near the city of Kohat, just south of northwestern Pakistan's largest city, Peshawar. Police said a homemade bomb was detonated by remote control outside the office of Noor Akbar, a candidate for parliament from the tribal area of Orakzai. Eight people died and 16 were injured, police said.

Another bombing occurred in Peshawar at the campaign office of Nasir Khan Afridi, a candidate from the Khyber tribal area. Three people were killed and 14 injured in the attack, police said. Neither Akbar nor Afridi were in the offices targeted.

Later in the evening, provincial assembly candidate Ameer Rehman's convoy came under attack shortly after it left a campaign rally in the northwestern village of Rafiqabad. Militants detonated a remote-controlled bomb planted on a motorcycle as Rehman's car passed by, then opened fire on the convoy, police said. A boy in the convoy was killed, and 13 people were injured. Rehman was unhurt.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, police said. Rehman is a member of the Awami National Party, another of the targeted liberal parties. The third is the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, targeted in a bombing Saturday that killed one person at an election office in Karachi. Most of the preelection violence has occurred either in northwestern Pakistan or in Karachi, in the south.

Also Saturday, militants in Karachi detonated bombs that killed three people and injured 21 others at a campaign gathering held by supporters of the Pakistan People's Party.

Times staff writer Rodriguez reported from Islamabad, Pakistan, and special correspondent Ali from Peshawar.

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