Violence mars electioneering activities as multiple blasts target Balochistan

Web Desk
Balochistan Levies personnel. — Reuters/File
Balochistan Levies personnel. — Reuters/File
  • Independent candidate Rehan Zeb Khan gunned down in Bajaur.
  • ECP seeks report from IG, chief secretary over Rehan's killing.
  • 3 hurt in Quetta hand grenade attack on PPP election office.

With February 8 polls drawing near, Balochistan Wednesday was rocked by multiple terrorist attacks in various cities resulting in several injuries.

Three separate hand grenade attacks were carried out against the Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) election offices in Quetta and Kalat's Mangochar — with the former incident wounding three people.

The strikes were followed by another hand grenade attack on the PPP candidate Zahoor Buledi's house in Kech, confirmed Deputy Commissioner (DC) Hussain Jan.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident, the Awami National Party (ANP) also came under attack as assailants opened fire on the party workers in Chaman city resulting in the death of a worker identified as Zahoor Ahmed.

The incident took place as ANP workers were busy in electioneering activities in the PB-50 constituency, confirmed party spokesperson Zamrak Achakzai.

Condemning the incidents, Balochistan's caretaker Home Minister Zubair Jamali said that such attacks would not deter the public's resolve against the menace of terrorism.

Furthermore, independent candidate Rehan Zeb Khan was shot dead on Wednesday in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur district, police said.

The election hopeful was contesting elections from NA-8 and PK-22 seats and was present in Sadiqabad Phatak Bazar area of the tribal district in connection with the election campaign when unidentified assailants fired upon him, leaving him dead on the spot.

The attacks come in the backdrop of increased terrorist attacks that have plagued particularly Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces in recent months.

With more than 128 million voters, various circles have raised concerns over the deteriorating security situation in the country, especially in the aforementioned provinces, with some lawmakers even moving the Senate seeking poll delay in light of security threats.

Meanwhile, taking notice of Rehan's killing, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought a report from the provincial chief secretary and Inspector General Police (IGP), further directing them to take stern action against those responsible for the attack.

Previous general election campaigns have witnessed spasms of violence, with scores of candidates and voters targeted by bombings and gun attacks and it seems that the 2024 polls are likely to be no different as the country has witnessed a significant surge in targeting of electioneering activities and candidates.

A day earlier, at least four people lost their lives after a blast targeted a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally in Balochistan's Sibi.

The month of January has rather proved disastrous for election hopefuls, as Rehan is not the first independent candidate to have lost his life in the run-up to the polls, previously Shah Khalid was shot dead by unidentified men in the province's Swabi district.

Also, another independent candidate Kaleemullah Khan, contesting from the PK-104 constituency, was gunned down in North Waziristan in the same month.

The attack came hours after security forces eliminated nine terrorists including three suicide bombers and injured three in retaliatory actions following multiple terrorist attacks in Balochistan’s Mach and Kolpur towns.

Previously, National Party's (NP) Lala Abdul Rasheed, and Senator Kohda Akram Dashti, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) candidate for NA-258 Aslam Buledi and former member of the National Assembly and National Democratic Movement (NDM) leader Mohsin Dawar came under attack in different areas across the country.