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Election-Related Attacks Continue On Eve Of Pakistani Vote

  • RFE/RL

Police officers and rescue workers are seen at the entrance of damaged election campaign offices belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after a bomb blast in Quetta on May 10.

Police officers and rescue workers are seen at the entrance of damaged election campaign offices belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after a bomb blast in Quetta on May 10.

Attacks on Pakistani politicians are continuing on the eve of the country’s May 11 general elections.

Pakistani intelligence officials told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that a bomb near the offices of four candidates killed at least three people on May 10 in the North Waziristan tribal region’s main town of Miran Shah.

In Quetta, five people were injured by a bomb outside the office of the secular leaning Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

EXPLAINER: A Guide To Pakistan's General Elections

Pakistan’s Taliban movement has warned voters to boycott the elections or risk being killed.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Taliban, Ensanullah Ensah, said his group has “planned several actions on May 11, so we appeal to the people to stay from polling stations to save their lives.”

Pakistani authorities plan to deploy some 600,000 police, security personnel, and soldiers to keep order.

Meanwhile, there has been no news about the fate of Ali Haider Gilani, a PPP candidate and son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Gunmen abducted Gilani on May 9 during a campaign rally in Multan, where he is running for the provincial assembly.

Ali Haider Gilani's father told journalists in Multan on May 10 that authorities were still trying to figure out who took his son.

"At the moment, the evidence is pointing to certain terrorist groups," Gilani said. "We have also some leads, we are working on it. However, I think, within a couple of days, we will be in a better position to tell you which group is involved in this."

Pakistan’s Taliban have threatened the PPP and its main partners, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party.

Campaigning officially ended on May 9.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, made his final appeal, citing his grandfather and mother, in a video message to a rally in Islamabad.

"It is your duty," Bhutto said, adding in a reference to former President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto: "This was the [party] founder's dream for you. The martyred [Benazir Bhutto] also wanted to take Pakistan towards this destiny. And now, the heir to this dream is asking for your support."

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the front-running Pakistan Muslim League-N, rallied his supporters at a gathering in Lahore.

"God willing, when your fate changes, then the destiny of the nation will also change," Sharif said. "Young men, you are the architects of the future. The green flag of Pakistan is in your hands. Do not let it bend down."

Sharif’s leading rival -- the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan – addressed his supporters by video link from his hospital bed in Lahore on May 9. Khan was injured on May 7 when he fell from a makeshift elevator that was lifting him to the stage of a rally in Lahore.

"Allah better knows what will happen [in the May 11 vote]. I do not know," Khan said. "However, I request you to vote for the candidates of the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) whoever they may be. I accept that we have made mistakes. I agree that some of our candidates might not be up to our standards. But I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, that every member of parliament will either fit himself into the standards of Pakistan Movement for Justice, will have to change himself, or we will not let him stay in our party."

More than 110 people have been killed in election-related attacks during the past month.

Despite the violence, some Pakistani voters vow they will not be intimidated by militant attacks.

"The security situation does not allow us to go out to vote but it is compulsory for us to do so to save Pakistan," said Mohammad Hassam, who is registered to vote in Karachi. "Because of this, we will go out to cast our vote tomorrow."

The Pakistani Electoral Commission has overhauled the lists of those who are eligible to vote. There are now 85 million verified voters.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa, and RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal