Four people were killed and six others injured after an explosion occurred near a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rally in Balochistan’s Sibi on Tuesday, according to local police and health officials.
According to the PTI, the blast occurred as an election rally organized by candidate Saddam Tareen passed by the area on Jinnah Road. Tareen is contesting for the NA-253 constituency. It said three PTI workers were killed, while seven others were injured. Tareen remained uninjured, it added.
“We strongly condemn this heartbreaking incident and demand that attention should be given to suppressing terrorists instead of PTI workers,” it wrote in a post on X. In a separate statement, it accused the provincial and federal governments of “criminal failure” for failing to prevent the incident.
“A full investigation of the incident should be conducted and the criminal negligence of the supervising governments should also be investigated to bring those responsible to justice,” it said, questioning why the rally was not provided security despite a prevailing alert in Balochistan.
In a statement, interim Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai said the incident would not cause any delay to the conduct of elections on Feb. 8. “The rally in Sibi, which was targeted by terrorists, will not discourage the government of Balochistan from conducting the elections,” he wrote on X, adding it was “evident” the terrorists sought to disrupt the election process and its results.
“The resilient people of Balochistan, by the grace of God, will ensure that at least 50 percent of the population actively participates in the voting process on Feb. 8,” he claimed, and condoled with the families of the deceased.
Balochistan Health Secretary Abdullah Khan Noorzai, meanwhile, said an emergency was imposed at hospitals across Quetta and Sibi. In a statement issued by the provincial health department, he said the Sibi medical superintendent had been instructed to provide the best healthcare facilities to patients. “All doctors and staff are instructed to be present on duty immediately,” it said, adding directives were also issued for hospitals to increase their security, and stockpile medicines, medical equipment, lab necessities, and blood supplies.
In a post on X, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said it had taken notice of the incident and summoned a report from the Balochistan chief secretary and police chief.
There has been a resurgence of terrorism across Pakistan over the past two years, particularly in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Recent clashes between security forces and militants of the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) have further raised concerns of security for candidates and voters ahead of elections.