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Blasts near Pakistan candidates' offices kill 24 on eve of election

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Two blasts near electoral candidates' offices in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan killed 24 people and injured dozens, local officials said on Wednesday, raising concerns over security in the lead up to Thursday's polls.

Pakistan goes to the polls amid rising militant attacks in recent months and the jailing of Imran Khan, the winner of the last national election, who has been dominating the headlines despite an economic crisis and other woes threatening the nuclear-armed country.

Authorities have said they are boosting security at polling booths.

The first attack, which killed 14, took place at the office of an independent election candidate in Pishin district. The second explosion in Qilla Saifullah, a town near the Afghan border, detonated near an office of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), a religious party that has previously been the target of militant attacks, according to the province's information minister.

At least 10 people were killed there, he said.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks. Several groups, including the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban and separatist groups from Balochistan, oppose the Pakistani state and have carried out attacks in recent months.

"The Election Commission has asked the chief secretary and inspetor general of Balochistan for immediate reports and instructed them to take action against those behind the events," an Election Commission spokesperson said in a statement.

Khanzai hospital, close to the site of the explosion in Pishin, gave the death toll as 14 and said more than two dozen were injured. The deputy commissioner of Pishin district, Jumma Dad Khan, said that the blast had injured many people.

The attacks came as political parties