A national assembly candidate in Pakistan’s election next week was shot and killed on Wednesday in the tribal district along the Afghan border, police said, amid fears of an uptick in militant violence around the parliamentary vote.
Rehan Zeb Khan, an independent candidate in the February 8 election who had claimed to be supported by former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, and four aides were shot in Bajur district, said police officer Rasheed Khan.
He said Rehan Zeb Khan died at a local hospital and his aides were in a critical condition.
Imran Khan and his wife Bushra were jailed for 14 years in a graft case, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said on Wednesday.
Khan’s party has been stripped of its traditional electoral symbol, a cricket bat, on technical grounds, and its candidates are contesting the election as independents.
PTI’s provincial president Atif Khan said Rehan Zeb Khan was a party member but the PTI had another candidate in the constituency with its official backing.
In the absence of the party symbol on the ballot, several independent candidates are claiming to have Khan’s party support.
The PTI said it has been subjected to a military-backed crackdown, including arrests of hundreds of supporters, party members and key aides. The military, which has for decades held sway over Pakistan’s politics, denied the charges.
It was the second killing of a candidate associated with PTI in the tribal regions of northwestern Pakistan in recent days.
No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack in a region where Islamist militants operate on both sides of the border.