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.