A Pakistani candidate from the party of prime ministerial hopeful and former cricket star Imran Khan was killed in a suicide attack that wounded four others, a police official said, just days ahead of Wednesday’s general elections. The attack in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa follows a spate of bombings at political rallies before the election, the most devastating of which was a suicide attack this month that killed 149 people.
Sunday’s attack targeted the vehicle of Ikramullah Gandapur, a candidate of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Justice Movement, for the provisional legislative assembly in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, two police officials told Reuters.
“Ikramullah Gandapur has been killed and we are conducting a post-mortem,” said police official Zahoor Afridi. Video images from the scene showed three bleeding and unconscious passengers inside a badly damaged black sports utility vehicle. In 2013, Gandapur’s brother, Israrullah, who was then the provincial law minister, was killed in a suicide attack on his home.
As political parties step up campaigning, attacks across Pakistan have stoked fears of more violence in a country of 208 million where political rallies can draw tens of thousands of spectators. There are two main contenders among the dozens of parties in the election fray: PTI and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which aims to win a second term despite the jailing of its founder, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for graft.