A roadside bomb hit an election candidate's car Wednesday in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley, killing two people and wounding several others.

Police and the interior ministry say the candidate, Mufti Hussain Ahmed, from a pro-Taliban Islamic party was among those wounded. The attack took place as the car left an election rally.

Pakistan has been hit by a wave of violence blamed on Islamist militants since the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto as she left a political rally on December 27.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today she is concerned about the potential for election violence in Pakistan. She said next week's polls must inspire confidence that Pakistan's citizens can vote freely.

The Pakistani government has begun deploying tens of thousands of soldiers across the country to bolster security ahead of the polls.

The United States considers Pakistan a key ally in the war on terror and has given the Musharraf government nearly $11 billion in mostly military aid.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.