Son of slain anti-Taliban politician among 20 dead in Pakistan blast

Pauline Gross
July 11, 2018

At least 12 persons including Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour were killed in a suspected suicide blast which targeted an election gathering of ANP in Yakatoot area of Peshawar on Tuesday night, a senior police official said. The party's main focus is to become victorious in the elections, he said, adding "We have to contest elections and win now". But many militants have escaped to neighbouring Afghanistan, from where Islamabad alleges they launch attacks inside Pakistan.

The bodies and injured were taken to Lady Reading hospital and CMH Peshawar.

"The death toll has risen to 20 and 63 others were wounded, out of whom 35 are still admitted in two Peshawar hospitals", Peshawar police chief Qazi Jameel told AFP.

Police said that the head of the suspected suicide bomber has been found from the rooftop of a building, adding that almost eight kilogrammes of explosive material was used in the attack.

The army announced on Tuesday it would deploy over 371,000 troops to ensure peaceful and fair and free elections on July 25.

Sartaj Khan, an ANP supporter, sustained wounds on his feet. "The last thing I saw was a big ball of fire", he said.

A police officer in plain clothes collects evidence from the site after a suicide attack during an election campaign meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan.

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The National Counter Terrorism Authority on Monday had told a Senate standing committee that some leading political leaders faced death threats from militant outfits ahead of the 25 July general elections in Pakistan.

Another party worker, Yaseen Khan, said a deafening explosion rocked the compound as Haroon Bilour shook hands with supporters. The militants killed hundreds of ANP leaders and supporters in attacks around the 2013 election.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, said 371,388 troops - almost a third of the total armed forces - would be deployed to provide security for the upcoming vote. But ANP leaders have vowed to continue their campaign this year despite the bombing in Peshawar.

Militant organisations have claimed responsibility for attacks on several prominent political figures, including the assassination of former PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

Peshawar city sits on the edge of a region bordering Afghanistan that has always been home to Islamist militants.

These groups have often targeted political parties and leaders opposed to their views.

But security across Pakistan, including in Peshawar, has dramatically improved since government and military operations in recent years.

Other reports by GizPress

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