Suicide bomb kills election candidate, driver in Pakistan
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan – A suicide bombing on Sunday in northwestern Pakistan killed a candidate running for a seat in the provincial assembly and his driver, and wounded three other people, police said.
It was the latest violence ahead of Wednesday’s elections, when Pakistanis are to elect the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, and four provincial assemblies.
According to police officer Zahoor Afridi, the candidate Ikramullah Gandapur from opposition leader Imran Khan’s party, was returning home from a campaign event when the bomber struck in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, wounding him. He died a short while later in a military hospital, Afridi said. Along with his driver who was also killed, three other people, including two policemen, were wounded.
Later Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing that killed Gandapur.
Earlier this month, a provincial assembly candidate was killed in a massive suicide bombing in Mastung district in southwestern Baluchistan province, along with 148 people. Also, in the northwestern city of Peshawar, a suicide bombing this month killed another provincial assembly candidate and 20 others.
Gandapur’s brother Israr was killed in a suicide attack in 2013. After his younger brother’s death, Gandapur was elected as a member of the assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and appointed provincial minister for agriculture.
In the July 25 balloting, he was to run on the list of the Tahrike-e-Insaf party, led by Khan, who aspires to become the country’s next prime minister.
Analysts say Khan, a famous former cricket player, enjoys the backing of military, which has ruled Pakistan directly and indirectly for most of its 71-year history.
Also Sunday, the convoy of another election candidate, Akram Durrani, came under fire in the northwestern town of Bannu. No one was hurt.
Durrani survived a suicide attack earlier this month that killed four people.
Following Sunday’s attacks, Pakistan’s election oversight body postponed the balloting for the provincial assembly seat that Gandapur was contesting.
It also postponed the balloting for the National Assembly seat from the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where a candidate from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party was disqualified after being convicted of substance abuse.
Voting for those two seats would take place at a later date.
Associated Press writer Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.
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