Ahead of crucial Pakistan general elections scheduled for May 11, gunmen on Thursday abducted the son of former Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, during an election rally.
The former PM told the BBC his son Ali Haider, a candidate for the secular Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), was seized in the central city of Multan.
He accused his political opponents of being behind the attack, which came ahead of Saturday's elections. One person was reportedly killed when the attackers opened fire at the rally, the BBC report added.
The incident happened in the Matital area on the last day of official campaigning for Saturday's election, which marks the first time that a civilian government completes a full-term in office.
“People came on a motorbike. They also had a car with them and they opened fire and abducted Yousuf Raza Gilani's son Ali Haider in a black Honda,” police officer Khurram Shakur told reporters in Multan, as reported by AFP news agency.
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“We have closed the entry-exit points and launched a search,” he said.
Reports said the person who died in the shooting could have been Ali Haider's bodyguard or secretary.
Provincial elections are also being held and Ali Haider is a candidate for the PPP in the provincial assembly of Punjab. He has two other brothers standing for the national assembly.
After the kidnapping, Gilani’s two other sons, Ali Musa and Abdul Qadir were seen to be angry and in tears, Pakistan’s Dawn News reported.
“I will not allow elections to be held in my constituency at any cost. My brother is gone, how can I let polls take place in Multan,” an emotional Ali Musa Gilani told television channels.
Yousuf Raza Gilani was disqualified to contest the elections after being sacked and indicted by the Supreme Court last year for refusing to reopen corruption cases against the president.
The run-up to Saturday’s election has been marred by violence across the country, with the Pakistani Taliban claiming responsibility for several bomb attacks on secular political party targets.
Speaking to Dawn News over telephone from an undisclosed location, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan had said last month: “These secular parties want to bring the system of the infidel in Pakistan,” referring to the ANP (Awami National Party), the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), and PPP (Pakistan People’s Party).
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the abduction.