MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan (AP) — A pair of bombs targeting the offices of candidates running in this weekend's election killed three people on Friday in northwest Pakistan, the latest attacks in what has been a bloody campaign.
At least 130 people have been killed in attacks on candidates and party workers since the beginning of April. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, saying the country's democracy runs counter to Islam.
The Taliban are suspected in the abduction of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son on Thursday, although there has been no claim of responsibility. Gilani said he has asked Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency to help find his 25-year-old son, Ali Haider Gilani, who was taken as he was leaving an election event in the central Pakistani city of Multan.
The elder Gilani said the abduction should not interrupt Saturday's election, which will mark the first time a civilian government has completed its full five-year term and transferred power in democratic elections.
"The election process should continue," the former prime minister told reporters.
The bombings of the election offices Friday occurred in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area and a key sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban. In addition to the three people who were killed, 15 were wounded in the attacks, said intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
No one has claimed responsibility, and it was unclear exactly which candidates were targeted since several have offices in the block where the explosions occurred.
The Taliban have mainly targeted candidates and workers from secular parties, raising concern the violence could benefit hard-line Islamists and others who take a soft line toward the militants because they are able to campaign more freely.
Also on Friday, unknown assailants threw a grenade at the main office of the secular Pakistan People's Party in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, wounding five people, said police spokesman Fayyaz Sumbal. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.
Baluchistan is home to both Islamic militants and separatist insurgents who want to break away from Pakistan. The separatists have been staging attacks against candidates and party workers in an attempt to hamper Saturday's election.
Given the recent attacks, soldiers and police stood guard Friday as election materials were distributed to polling stations throughout the country.
Associated Press writers Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.