A girl injured in a bomb blast is taken to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan.… (Arshad Arbab / EPA )
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Bomb blasts targeting the election offices of two candidates in northwest Pakistan killed at least 11 people and injured 30 Sunday, the latest in a string of terror attacks that have cast a shadow over parliamentary elections slated for mid-May.
In recent weeks, Pakistan has been rocked by bombings directed primarily at candidates and backers of three liberal, secular parties, the Awami National Party based in the country’s northwest, President Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, which led the civilian government for the last five years, and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the ruling party in Karachi, the country’s largest city.
The bombings have been occurring almost daily, and have included attacks on candidates’ headquarters, small campaign gatherings and candidates as they drive from one campaign event to another. Several weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban had warned they would attack candidates and leaders of the ANP, PPP and MQM because it regards those parties as enemies of Islam. Taliban leaders have claimed responsibility for many of the recent attacks on members of those parties.
The bombings Sunday targeted two independent candidates from the country’s tribal region along the Afghan border, an area that is home to an array of militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban. The insurgent group, which for years has been waging war against the Pakistani government and its military, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attacks.
One of the bombings occurred near the city of Kohat, just south of northwest Pakistan’s largest city, Peshawar. Police said a homemade bomb was detonated by remote control outside the Noor Akbar, a parliament election candidate from the tribal area of Orakzai. Eight people died in the blast, and 16 were injured, police said.
The other 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 more injured in that attack, police said. Neither Akbar nor Afridi were in the targeted offices at the time of the attacks.
Most of the violence ahead of parliament and provincial assembly elections May 11 has occurred either in northwest Pakistan or in Karachi. On 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, and killed another person at an election office run by MQM. At least 21 people were also injured in that blast.
Staff writer Alex Rodriguez reported from Islamabad, and special correspondent Zulfiqar Ali reported from Peshawar.