There have been two more deadly bomb attacks in northwestern Pakistan targeting the offices of independent candidates in next month’s parliamentary elections.
Police said the April 28 bomb blasts killed at least eight people and injured at least 35 others.
The first attack killed five people and injured 22 in the city of Kohat, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
The second explosion killed three people and wounded 13 others in the province’s main city, Peshawar.
Police in Peshawar told reporters the second bomb was attached to a bicycle that was left in front of the gate of the candidate’s office where it was detonated.
Pakistan’s Taliban -- known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan -- has claimed responsibility for both of the latest attacks. The militant group also said on April 28 that that it had carried out separate attacks on the offices of main political parties in Pakistan earlier in the weekend that killed at least four people.
The targets in the earlier attacks included the Awami National Party’s office in the southern port city of Karachi and an office of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
The violence comes ahead of elections scheduled for May 11 -- a vote that is meant to lead to the peaceful transition from one civilian government to another for the first time in Pakistan’s turbulent history.
Mia Iftikhar Hussain, a senior leader of the Awami National Party, told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal on April 28 that the violence shows Pakistan’s current caretaker government "has absolutely failed" on security and the election commission left its promises unfulfilled. But he said his party has ruled out the idea of boycotting the May 11 ballot because of the violence.
"The government should order all relevant organizations to take care of security. But the problem is that the caretaker government has no plan or strategy otherwise the situation would not have been this horrible," Hussain said. "The Awami National Party has firmly decided that no matter how many times they attack us, we will continue our sacrifices for the sake of democracy and our country. The election should not be delayed even by a second."
Faisal Sabzwari, a senior official of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, equated the recent series of bombings to an attempt by militants to rig the elections in favor of Pakistan’s more extremist Islamist parties.
"This equals...a poll rigging. There are no threats to parties like Jamat-e Islamic, Jamiat-e Ulamae Islam, Pakistan Tehreke Insaf, and Pakistan Muslim League," Sabzwari said. "This means that people should and can take part in their rallies and election activities. The election may happen on May 11 in Pakistan, but these elections will not be free, fair, and transparent."
But Sabzwari told Radio Mashaal that an election boycott to protest the violence was out of the question.
"We will not boycott the election," Sabzwari said. "[The Taliban] is killing us because they want their favorite parties to make it to the assemblies. If we boycott the election, they will reach this goal very easily. So far, we do have the courage and are ready to face them."
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province’s interim information minister, Musarrat Qadem, told Radio Mashaal that security personnel are committed to protecting the rallies and meetings of all candidates.
Qadem said the bombings of political campaign offices in Karachi and Peshawar represent “new attack tactics” by Pakistan’s Taliban.
Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, AFP, dpa, and AP