ISLAMABAD: Just a day before Pakistan’s general elections, two powerful explosions hit election campaign offices in the country’s southwest Balochistan province on Wednesday, killing at least 26 people while injuring over 45 others, said police and hospital officials.
The deadly bombings, targetting the offices of candidates contesting the elections, occurred in Pishin and Qila Saifullah districts of Balochistan province, Inspector General of Balochistan Police Abdul Khalique Shaikh told Xinhua.
In the first explosion in Pishin, at least 14 people lost their lives, and over 25 others were injured, whereas at least 12 people were killed and over 20 others injured in the second blast in Qila Saifullah district, said the official.
The “terrorist attacks” happened when a large number of workers and supporters of political leaders were gathered for meetings regarding the general elections, he added.
Soon after the explosions, security forces and rescue teams rushed to the sites and shifted the injured to nearby hospitals in the districts.
According to hospital sources, critically injured people were being transferred to Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan province, via a helicopter for better treatment.
The law enforcement agencies, police, and bomb disposal squad cordoned off the area and began collecting evidence to ascertain the exact cause of the explosions, which, according to preliminary investigations, were caused by planted explosive devices.
Mehmood Khan, an eyewitness and resident of Qila Saifullah, said that he was standing near the election office of a religious political party along with his cousin when a loud bang shook him up.
“Everything was going pretty normal until I heard a thundering sound of blast. For a moment, I could not comprehend the situation as thick black smoke blocked my eyesight, but I could hear the screams of injured people, asking for help,“ he told Xinhua.
Khan, whose cousin also got injured in the blast, said that after gaining consciousness, he and other residents of the area helped the rescue workers in shifting the injured to a hospital. “It was nothing but chaos,“ he added.
The provincial government announced a 3-day mourning period for the loss of lives in both attacks, according to Jan Achakzai, information minister of Balochistan.
Expressing deep grief and sorrow over the loss of lives in the blasts, caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar strongly condemned the blasts, vowing to foil every attempt of the elements to sabotage law and order in the country.
The prime minister reiterated the firm resolve of the government to hold the general elections in a peaceful environment.
A few days ahead of polls, the security situation in the country’s Balochistan and northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa remained tense, with a number of attacks and casualties reported in several areas.
In order to provide a peaceful environment to the voters, the government has deployed a total of 596,618 personnel of law enforcement agencies, including police, army, and paramilitary forces to maintain law and order on election day.–Bernama-Xinhua