Pakistan vote candidate shot dead: Officials
Quetta: A Pakistani candidate for elections next week was shot dead Tuesday in an exchange of fire with security forces at a checkpoint in restive southwestern Baluchistan province, officials said.
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.
Abdul Fateh Magsi, running for the regional assembly in Baluchistan as an independent, was killed when his guards exchanged fire with tribal policemen at a checkpost outside the town of Jhal Magsi, south of the provincial capital Quetta.
"The security forces signalled to Abdul Fateh Magsi and his guards to stop at a checkpost, but they did not. At this, they exchanged fire and Magsi and his two guards were killed," Baluchistan home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani told AFP.
"Two other guards with Magsi were injured while security forces discovered two rocket launchers in their vehicles and arrested five other members of the convoy," said Durrani.
District administration chief Saeed Ahmed Imrani said the incident took place before dawn on Tuesday.
Baluchistan is one of the most deprived areas of Pakistan. It suffers from a separatist insurgency waged by Baluch rebels, Islamist militancy and sectarian violence against the Shiite Muslim minority.
In much of the country, fear of attack and a direct threat from the Taliban against the three parties in the outgoing government have curtailed public rallies ahead of the May 11 polls.
Amnesty International has called on Pakistan to investigate the recent wave of attacks and ensure adequate protection for election candidates.
The polls should see power pass from a civilian government that has served a full term to another through the ballot box for the first time in the nuclear-armed country`s turbulent history.
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