Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for bombing at rally that killed 21

Frederick Owens
July 11, 2018

A suicide bombing at an election rally killed at least 13 people, including a politician, in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, police said, amid concerns about security ahead of national polls later this month.

Peshawar Police Chief Qazi Jamil confirmed Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour was among the persons who died in the attack.

The leaders include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's son Talha, Asfandayar Wali Khan, and senior leadership of other parties.

Last month, a U.S. drone strike killed the Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who had claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against the ANP in the 2013 election on the grounds that it had supported military operations against the militants.

ANP senior leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the attack was meant to derail democracy and delay the elections scheduled for July 25.

"According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour... was the target", police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.

The Election Commission has delayed the election on Peshawar's PK-78, from where ANP leader Haroon Bilour was contesting.

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The Awami National Party governed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2008 to 2013. The bomber blew himself up late on Tuesday before a meeting at the YakaToot. He suffered serious injuries and was shifted to hospital where he succumbed to his wounds. Live TV footage showed volunteers and police rushing the wounded to hospital.

Another party worker, Yaseen Khan, said a deafening explosion rocked the compound as Bilour shook hands with supporters. No group has claimed responsibility of the attack.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza strongly condemned the attack, reports said.

Mosharraf Zaidi, head of Alif Ailaan, flayed the attack, saying "The horror continues for the Bilour family".

Major General Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, said the troops would provide security at 85,000 polling stations and carry out other election-related duties following a request from the civilian body overseeing the vote.

Terming it the "peak of terrorism", ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the attack is aimed at derailing democratic system in the country and a conspiracy to delay upcoming general elections.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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