Karachi/Quetta/Peshawar/Lahore - Violence continued unabated on the eve of landmark general elections, with 17 people killed on Friday in bombings and militant attacks on political workers, election offices and polling stations in Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and other areas the country.

A senior worker of Mohajir Quami Movement-Haqiqi (MQM-H) contesting polls as an independent candidate and two others were killed in armed clashes between activists of MQM-H and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Karachi’s Landhi area.

Four persons were killed and 12 others injured when a blast ripped through the market of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan tribal region. One person was injured in bomb blast at Faqir Chowk of Peshawar near an ANP election office.

Two security personnel were killed and fifteen people, including five security personnel, were wounded in bomb and rocket attacks in different parts of Balochistan.

Four security guards of Ayla Malik, PTI contestant from NA-71 (Mianwali-I), were reportedly injured when some unidentified persons opened fire on her convoy. Ayla told a TV channel that she herself was safe but two of her injured security guards were critical.

Two persons were killed and three injured in a scuffle between supporters of PML-N candidate for NA-99 (Gujranwala-V), Rana Shamshad, and independent candidate for PP-100 (Gujranwala-X) Ch Ahsan in Baigpur village on Sheikhupura-Gujranwala Road. The dead were identified as Arif and Shamshad. The injured, shifted to DHQ Hospital Sheikhupura, included Qurban and Amjad and an unidentified man.

The election commission on Friday night postponed polls in NA-38 (Kurram Agency) over law and order situation. Earlier, in the day scores of people staged a protest on Sher Shah Suri Road of Peshawar, demanding the ECP to postpone polls in NA-38. They said free and fair elections were not possible there because the majority of the population has either left the area due to ongoing military operation or the security situation would not allow them to vote.

Polls were also postponed in NA-241 and PS-95 in Karachi after the death of MQM-H leader Shakeel Ahmed who was contesting as an independent candidate. He was shot dead near the residence of MQM-H chief Afaq Ahmed at Landhi 6. An MQM activist, Altaf Hussain, and a passerby, Muhammad Ali Moinuddin, also sustained bullet wounds and they were declared dead by doctors at the Jinnah postgraduate Medical Centre.

Haqiqi’s spokesman Khalid Hamidi, when contacted, said that Shakeel was a senior party worker and he submitted his nomination papers as an independent candidate after the ECP rejected his papers on the party ticket. He said that Shakeel Ahmed went to meet MQM-H Chairman Afaq Ahmed where gunmen on a motorbike targeted him. But police said that it was an already ongoing gunfight between the activists of MQM and MQM-H which resulted in the killing of the three men.

Landhi has become a battleground where the two rival groups are engaged in heavy firing as the Haqiqi group is seeking to regain its past stronghold. Residents said that law enforcement agencies were keeping out as the clashes continue and armed men are roaming in the streets. The fighting has also damaged the electricity supply network and many families in Landhi 5/D, 5/C and Chirag Hotel are fleeing the area.

In Balochistan, Levies sources said that a convoy of security personnel carrying ballets and other polling material was attacked with rockets and other heavy weapons from nearby mountains in Dasht area of Mastung district. Two security personnel were killed and five other sustained injuries. The firing between security personnel and attackers continued for more than an hour, they added.

In another incident, five people were wounded when an explosive device convoy at the rooftop of an electoral office at Brewery Road of Quetta went off, also damaging the office and some vehicles parked nearby office. Four people were wounded in a bomb blast at the electoral office of an independent candidate for PB 26, Naheem Khan Khosa, at TK Chowk of Dera Allayar, Jaffarabad.

Four rockets were fired in Quetta that landed in different parts of the city; however, no loss of life and damage to property was reported. Similarly, seven rockets were fired by militants from the nearby mountains in Machh, some 40 Kilometres from Quetta. They landed in desolated areas causing fear and panic in the locality. Explosions were also carried out in Ahmadwall area of Nushki district but no loss of life was reported.

Several polling stations were blasted in Dera Bugti, Panjgour, Turbat and Kohlu. Three polling stations were targeted in tehsil Sui, Loop Mirani, Sourdar and Killi Sher Muhammad parts of Dera Bugti district. Rockets hit a government middle school in Kobun area of Panjgour. Unidentified persons hurled petrol bomb at an electoral office of Balochistan National Party in Kardgap area of Mastung district. However, no loss of life was reported in these blasts.