Eight people killed as Pakistani Taliban target more candidates

Commuters pass under the flags and posters of political parties in Quetta, Pakistan, on Sunday.

Story highlights

  • Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for bombings of candidates' offices
  • Group says secular elections are unacceptable
  • Pakistan's elections are to be held May 11

At least eight people were killed Sunday as the Pakistani Taliban continued to attack candidates in that country's upcoming elections, authorities said.

The Pakistani Taliban, in a statement obtained by CNN, took responsibility for the bombings at the offices of candidates in Peshawar and the Orakzai Agency.

The Taliban said it targeted secular candidates, but many parties have been hit by the increasing violence.

"A man cannot be secular and Muslim at a time. These are two different doctrines in nature," the statement said.

The elections in May mark the first time in Pakistan's history that one democratically elected government will give way to another.

The nation has experienced three military coups, been ruled by generals for half its life, and it remains mired in near-constant political turmoil.

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Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has told Pakistanis to stay away from the elections.

    "We are not in favor of democracy, democracy is for Jews and Christians," he said in recent propaganda video.

    "They are intended to divide Muslims; we want the implementation of Sharia (law) and for that jihad is necessary," he added.

    Both attacks Sunday targeted independent candidates.

    Five people died and 22 were wounded by Sunday's explosion in Orakzai, said Dilawar Khan Bangish, police chief of the Kohat District.

    In Peshawar, three people were killed and eight wounded, said Khalid Mehmood Hamdani, a senior police official.

    The bombings follow three attacks Saturday and one Friday.

    The Pakistani Taliban are closely linked with the group's namesake in Afghanistan as well as with al Qaeda. It shares its religious extremist ideology -- but is its own distinct group that wants to replace the Pakistani government with an Islamist one.

    Elections are scheduled for May 11.