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Pakistan Blasts Kill More Than Two Dozen, Shootings Target Security Forces Amid Election

Sporadic violence marred Pakistan’s election on Thursday, a day after twin bombings near candidate and electoral offices in the province of Balochistan killed more than two dozen people and injured more, according to government officials.

One man was killed Thursday in an attack in the Tank district, the Ministry of the Interior said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). The Associated Press reported that gunmen opened fire, killing a soldier, citing local police.

In the district of Dera Ismail Khan, gunmen set off a bomb, then shot and killed five police officers, per the AP, while attackers threw hand grenades at two polling stations in the province of Balochistan. TIME has reached out to local government offices for further information.

The grenades, which reportedly did not injure anyone, followed lethal explosions in Balochistan Wednesday. One blast occurred in the Pishin district, killing 18 individuals, CNN reported, and injuring 24, according to Jan Achakzai, the province’s Minister for Information and Public Relations. Another blast occurred in Qilla Saifullhah, killing 12 people, according to Achakzai. He warned in an X post that the death toll could rise and said the government had revisited security protocols.

The AP reported that the first attack hit the election office of Asfandyar Khan and the second blast occurred at the office of politician Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema Islam party. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The country of 240 million people, with some 128 million registered voters, went to the polls Thursday in a general election where a slew of political parties, including that of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, will vie to run the country. The Ministry of the Interior said that as a result of the violence, it suspended mobile phone services, a decision criticized by some politicians and internet rights activists. 

On Thursday, Achakzai said on X that voting “has proceeded smoothly since 8 a.m” and efforts to disrupt the election had “failed.”

This came after he vowed to “relentlessly pursue terrorists until every last one of them is eliminated” in a social media post on Wednesday. “Rest assured, we will not allow terrorists to undermine or sabotage this crucial democratic process.”

Aside from Achakzai, other government ministers spoke out about the violence on Wednesday.

“Interior Minister Dr. Gohar Ijaz strongly condemned the explosion outside the election office in Pishin,” a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior read on X. “Interior Minister's prayers for patience and patience for the martyrs and their families.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar also “strongly condemned” the blasts in a statement on X and requested a report of incidents from Balochistan’s Chief Secretary.

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