Pakistani candidate escapes suicide bombing

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An election candidate escaped unharmed Wednesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in southern Pakistan wounding two passers-by, police said, in the latest in a wave of attacks to hit the campaign.

The attack came in Shikarpur district of Sindh province, some 400 kilometers northeast of Karachi, when Mohammad Ibrahim Jatoi, a candidate for the May 11 poll, was on the campaign trail.

Violence has spiked in the nuclear-armed country ahead of national elections on May 11, with at least 61 people killed in attacks on politicians and political parties since April 11, according to an AFP tally.

“A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up near the car of Mr Jatoi, but he was unharmed,” local police station chief Zaheer Mahesar told AFP.

Only the bomber died in the blast.

Jatoi, from the small National People’s Party, was returning from campaigning when the bomber targeted him at a toll collection point, Mahesar said, adding that two passers-by were wounded.

“We have found [the] arms and head of the suicide bomber,” he said.

District police Chief Ghulam Azfar confirmed the suicide attack and said that up to six kilos of explosives were used.

While suicide attacks are a common tactic used by Taliban and other militants in northwest Pakistan, they are rarely seen in the south.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, a rocket attack close to an election rally by the conservative religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party in southwestern Baluchistan province wounded six people, a senior local official told AFP.

The attack took place in Harnai district, some 360 kilometers east of Quetta, the capital of the troubled province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan and has been wracked by years of sectarian, separatist and Islamist violence.

“More than a dozen rockets were fired, two rockets landed inside the city near the rally. Six people have been injured,” Yasir Khan, the deputy commissioner of Harnai city told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Khan said that soldiers deployed for the security of the rally appeared to have been the target.