Pakistan elections: Candidate shot dead, several wounded in separate attacks

Vote body calls urgent meeting with government and intelligence officials on Thursday

By AFP

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Commuters ride past an election campaign poster of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Karachi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP
Commuters ride past an election campaign poster of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Karachi on Wednesday. Photo: AFP

Published: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 7:04 PM

Last updated: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 7:10 PM

Pakistan's election commission on Wednesday announced an urgent meeting of security officials after a candidate was shot dead and several others wounded in separate attacks a week before the country goes to the polls.

Elections in the South Asian nation are often marred by violence, with candidates and rallies targeted by militant groups as well as over personal vendettas.

Rehan Zeb Khan, standing as an independent after failing to get a ticket for former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was shot dead in his car after leaving a stump gathering in the former tribal district of Bajaur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

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"The killing of Rehan Zeb is a targeted killing aimed at creating chaos during the elections," district police officer Kashif Zulfiqar told AFP.

The Election Commission of Pakistan told media that it would meet with government and intelligence officials on Thursday to discuss the violence.

"In view of the deteriorating law and order situation in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Election Commission has convened a meeting on February 1," it said.

Authorities had previously announced that thousands of paramilitary troops would be deployed in the days leading up to the February 8 polls.

Also on Wednesday, two candidates — one standing for the national assembly, the other for a provincial seat — were attacked with grenades in the Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta.

"They were both in the office when terrorists attacked," a Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) spokesman told AFP, adding that five people were wounded.

A PPP candidate was also targeted with grenades at his home near Buleda, by the Iranian border, but no one was harmed in the attack.

Police on Tuesday said at least four people were killed by a bomb blast near a PTI rally in Quetta.

The attack came just hours after party founder Khan was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of having leaked classified state documents.

He was later handed another 14-year sentence for graft.

The 71-year-old former cricket star was ousted from office in 2022 and launched a campaign of defiance against Pakistan's military kingmakers, who he said conspired to end his premiership.

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