Twin blasts kill 24 on eve of Pakistan election
PISHIN (Pakistan): At least 24 people were killed Wednesday by two separate bomb blasts outside the offices of election candidates in southwestern Pakistan, on the eve of a national vote marred by violence and allegations of poll rigging.
More than half a million security officers were deploying ahead of Thursday's election, with authorities distributing ballot papers to more than 90,000 polling stations.
There have been multiple security incidents in the run-up to the vote, with at least two candidates shot dead and dozens more targeted in attacks across the country.
"The aim of today's blasts was to sabotage the election," said Jan Achakzai, caretaker information minister for Balochistan province, where the blasts happened.
"Despite today's blasts, the election will take place tomorrow. People of Balochistan will come out tomorrow without any fear."
A first improvised explosive device (IED) blast killed 12 people near the office of an independent candidate in Pishin district, around 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city of Quetta and 100 kilometres from the Afghan border.
Achakzai and Quetta police said 25 people were also wounded.
A second IED also killed 12 people near the election office of a candidate for the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) party in the city of Killa Saifullah -- about 120 kilometres (75 miles) east -- according to Achakzai.
"The incident took place in the main bazaar of the city area, where the election office of the JUI-F was targeted," a senior police official told AFP.
In July last year, 44 people were killed by a suicide bomber at a political gathering of the party in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Wednesday's blasts, the resource-rich province -- Pakistan's least populous -- is home to several militant groups fighting for a better share of its wealth, and has also been the target of attacks by the Islamic State group.