PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A candidate in this week’s general elections was killed Sunday in a suicide bombing while on his way to a campaign event in northwest Pakistan, adding to concerns over public safety in an election in which at least 160 people have died this month in political attacks.
Ikramullah Khan Gandapur, a provincial assembly candidate for the Pakistan Movement for Justice party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, died of injuries after a bomb detonated near his car, officials said. Gandapur’s driver also died. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
The nation has been on edge over Wednesday’s elections, which will decide Pakistan’s new prime minister, after a string of similar suicide bombings this month against political candidates.
In the largest explosion, at least 132 people died in southwestern Baluchistan on July 12 when a blast ripped through a gathering in support of Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial legislature seat on the pro-military Baluchistan Awami Party ticket.
Pakistan’s elections have been fraught with tension since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was found guilty on charges that he and his family hid unreported income in luxury apartments in London and other offshore properties — a case Sharif’s supporters allege was orchestrated by the country’s military to oust the prime minister.
Sharif and daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was also found guilty, returned to face their prison sentences. He received 10 years, and she was sentenced to seven years.
Gandapur’s Movement for Justice party is headed by former cricket star Imran Khan, who is considered a strong contender to become prime minister.
On Sunday, Khan condemned the attack as “cowardly.”
In another political attack Sunday, in the northwestern town of Bannu, unknown assailants fired at a vehicle carrying Akram Khan Durrani, leader of the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Islam party, which supports the Afghan Taliban.
Nobody was injured in the attack, which marked the second one against Durrani in eight days. The first one, a suicide bomb attack, killed four people.
Olivo reported from Kabul.