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Car bomb kills 37 ahead of Pakistan vote

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — A car bomb killed 37 people and wounded 93 Saturday in northern Pakistan when it exploded in front of an election office of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, the Pakistani Interior Ministry said.

The bombing comes two days before Pakistan’s much-delayed parliamentary elections.

Some of those killed were workers for the PPP, which opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto led before her assassination in December.

The blast occurred in Parachinar as a PPP rally was ending and people were gathering for refreshments, said retired Brig. Gen. Javed Iqbal Cheema, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

PPP parliamentary candidate Riaz Hussein was using the office, according to party spokesman Nazir Dhoki. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

A series of other blasts rocked Pakistan’s northwest tribal region Saturday. Injuries were reported but no deaths.

Pakistani voters are to go to the polls Monday to choose a new parliament in an election delayed, first by an emergency declaration in early November, then by Bhutto’s slaying. Watch how distrust pervades Pakistan’s election process

A string of suicide bombings has plagued the election season, including one in Rawalpindi late last year that killed Bhutto.

Parachinar is in the Kurram district of one of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, long havens for foreign fighters. The town is about 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the Afghan border.

Also Saturday, two bombings in Khar, a town also in the region, caused no deaths or injuries, police said.

In Mingora, two explosions targeting a police station and the front gate of the army’s media center wounded seven people Saturday, military and police said.

And two blasts from roadside bombs occurred in western Pakistan’s Quetta near the Afghan border, police said.

President Pervez Musharraf’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q is losing ground in opinion polls while the opposition is building a large lead, The Associated Press reported.

Opposition candidates fear Musharraf will rig the vote results to head off an opposition majority that could impeach him, according to the AP.

Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog group, said last week that the election can’t be considered impartial because Pakistan’s Election Commission hasn’t acted on allegations of irregularities.

The structure of the commission, which has wide powers to investigate complaints and take action, also suggests it will not rule fairly in the election, the group’s report said.

Musharraf has said that no post-election protests will be tolerated, but he has tried to reassure voters, saying that despite all rumors, insinuations and every type of apprehension, these elections will be free, fair, transparent and peaceful, according to the AP.
Car bomb kills 37 ahead of Pakistan vote – found here.

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February 17, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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