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Pakistani political parties targeted

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By The Los Angeles Times
Sunday, April 28, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Taliban attacks on the election offices of two candidates in northwest Pakistan killed at least 11 people and injured 30 on Sunday, the latest in a string of terrorist strikes that have cast a shadow over parliamentary elections scheduled for mid-May.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In recent weeks, Pakistan has been rocked by bombings directed primarily at candidates and backers of three liberal, secular parties: the Awami National Party based in the country's northwest; President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party, which led the civilian government for the last five years; and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the ruling party in Karachi, the country's largest city.

The bombings have been occurring almost daily.

Several weeks ago, the Pakistani Taliban had warned they would attack candidates and leaders of the ANP, PPP and MQM because it regards those parties as enemies of Islam.

The bombings on Sunday targeted two independent candidates from the country's tribal region along the Afghan border, an area that is home to many of militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban. The insurgent group, which for years has been waging war against the Pakistani government and its military, claimed responsibility.

One of the blasts occurred near the city of Kohat, just south of northwest Pakistan's largest city, Peshawar. Police said a homemade bomb was detonated by remote control outside the office of Noor Akbar, a parliament candidate from the tribal area of Orakzai. Eight died, and 16 were wounded, police said.

The other bombing occurred in Peshawar at the office of Nasir Khan Afridi, a candidate from the Khyber tribal area. Three were killed and 14 injured, police said.

Neither Akbar nor Afridi were in the targeted offices at the time of the attacks.

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