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Two Pakistan polling stations blown up: police

Pakistani men help an injured bomb victim at a hospital following an attack on an election office of a political party in Quetta on May 1, 2013. AFP PHOTO / BANARAS KHAN

QUETTA, Pakistan: Bombers on Thursday blew up two schools designated as polling stations for Pakistan's general election next week, police said.

A boys' primary school and a middle school were bombed at the village of Chattar in Naseerabad district in the southwestern province of Baluchistan,

"The school buildings were designated as polling stations for the May 11 general election and we think that they were targeted for this reason," district police chief Tahir Allauddin told AFP.

He said three rooms of the middle school, 350 kilometres (217 miles) southeast of Quetta, were destroyed and both rooms of the primary school were demolished.

Another police officer confirmed the incident and said nobody had yet claimed responsibility.

Violence has risen sharply before the vote with at least 61 people killed in direct attacks on politicians and political parties since April 11, according to an AFP tally.

Abdul Fateh Magsi, who was running for the regional assembly in Baluchistan as an independent, was killed on Tuesday when his guards exchanged fire with tribal policemen at a checkpost outside the town of Jhal Magsi south of Quetta.

In much of Pakistan, a direct threat from the Taliban against the three parties in the outgoing government has curtailed public rallies before the polls, which will mark an historic democratic transition of power.

Baluchistan is one of the country's most deprived areas. It suffers from a separatist insurgency waged by Baluch rebels, an Islamist militancy and sectarian violence against the Shiite Muslim minority.

 

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