Monday, November 19, 2018 | ePaper

Suicide bombing kills 21 at Peshawar election rally

  • Print


Rescuers work at the blast site in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan on Tuesday.

AFP, Peshawar, Pakistan :

A suicide bombing at an election rally killed at least 21 people, including a politician, in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, police said, amid concerns about security ahead of national polls later this month.
The attack targeted a campaign event organised in the city of Peshawar by the Awami National Party, which has been targeted by Islamist militants in the past over its vocal opposition to extremist groups like the Taliban.
The bombing came hours after the Pakistan military spokesman said there were security threats ahead of national elections scheduled for July 25.
"The attack killed at least 21 people, including (Haroon) Bilour," Peshawar city police chief Qazi Jameel told AFP.
Officials said at least 54 people were wounded.
Haroon Bilour was one of the ANP's election candidates and belonged to an influential political family in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.
His father Bashir Bilour, one of the ANP's top leaders, was also killed by a suicide bomber in 2012.
"According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour… was the target," police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.
Police said the bomber struck when Bilour was about to address some 200 supporters.
Local television channels broadcast live scenes of ambulances arriving at the site and rushing victims to the hospital. Some people were seen crying.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but there have been dozens of such bombings in recent years in Peshawar.
They have often been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban and their allies.
The city is considered a gateway to Pakistan's troubled semi-autonomous tribal regions, where many militant groups - including al Qaeda - operated until the government launched operations to oust them.
Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Peshawar.
This was the first major attack on a campaign event for Pakistan's July 25 general election.
Police chief Jameel said the number of casualties was high because the ANP event was taking place at a house in a narrow street.
An AFP reporter saw human remains, shoes, broken chairs, and caps littered at the scene.
Sartaj Khan, an ANP supporter, sustained wounds on his feet.
"I lost consciousness after the blast. The last thing I saw was a big ball of fire," he said.
Another party worker, Yaseen Khan, said a deafening explosion rocked the compound as Haroon Bilour shook hands with supporters.
Pakistan's Election Commission has asked the military to help hold a "free and fair election" in the face of security threats.
More than 380,000 personnel will be deployed for the elections, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman.
The ANP and its ally the Pakistan Peoples Party were unable to campaign for the last general election in 2013 because of threats and attacks on their events and supporters by Islamist militant groups like the Pakistani Taliban.
But ANP leaders have vowed to continue their campaign this year despite the bombing in Peshawar.
Pakistan has been fighting a homegrown insurgency since 2004, when militants displaced by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan came to its border tribal areas.
These groups have often targeted political parties and leaders opposed to their views. Officials have said that while the threat remains, militants have been significantly weakened because of military operations in recent years.
Pakistani militant organisations have claimed responsibility for attacks on several prominent political figures, including the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.

More News For this Category

US peace envoy hopes for deal with Taliban in 2019

US peace envoy hopes for deal with Taliban in 2019

Reuters, Kabul :The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan hopes to cement a peace deal with Taliban insurgents by April 2019, local media reported on Sunday.The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who

Sri Lankan President seeks talks to end power struggle

Sri Lankan President seeks talks to end power struggle

AFP, Colombo :Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday called crucial talks with political leaders in a bid to end a power struggle with the prime minister he sacked last

Macron's popularity falls to 25 pc: Poll

Macron's popularity falls to 25 pc: Poll

AFP, Paris :The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has dropped to just 25 percent, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday.The poll by research group Ifop was

No ‘final conclusion’ on Khashoggi killing, say US

No ‘final conclusion’ on Khashoggi killing, say US

AFP, Washington  :The US government has not reached a final conclusion over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the State Department said Saturday following reports that the CIA had held the

Anti-IS coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria

Anti-IS coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria

AFP, Beirut :Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a holdout of the Islamic State group in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.Seventeen children

News In Brief

15,000 killed in Russian road accidents in 2018 so farTass, MoscowAbout 15,000 people have been killed in road accidents in Russia so far in 2018, Russia's General Administration for Traffic

US opposes UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of Golan Heights

US opposes UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of Golan Heights

AFP, United Nations :For the first time, the United States voted Friday against an annual UN resolution condemning Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, dropping its practice of abstaining in

As China-US friction rises, their armies hold joint disaster drills

As China-US friction rises, their armies hold joint disaster drills

Reuters, Nanjing :Soldiers from China and the United States wrapped up a week of joint disaster relief drills on Saturday, in a display of cooperation against a backdrop of worsening

Cygnus cargo ship launches to ISS

AFP, United States :An unmanned Cygnus cargo ship blasted off Saturday toward the International Space Station, marking the second supply mission in 24 hours destined to carry food and supplies

US-China discord dominates APEC summit in Papua New Guinea

US-China discord dominates APEC summit in Papua New Guinea

Reuters, Port Moresby :The United States and China swapped barbs over trade, investment and regional security at an Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit on Saturday, as growing fault lines