Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, said they targeted the Awami National Party (ANP) rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a candidate for a seat in the provincial legislature.

More than 30 people injured in the explosion.

Political parties and the government in Pakistan have condemned the attack, with caretaker prime minister Nasirul Mulk ordering authorities to step up security ahead of the general election on 25 July.

Last month, a USA 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. Bilour's father, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, was killed by a suicide bomber during a meeting in 2012 ahead of the vote.

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Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Peshawar.

Following the incident, the Election Commission of Pakistan postponed the polls in PK-78 (Peshawar-XIII) constituency.

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.

Sartaj Khan, an ANP supporter, sustained wounds on his feet.

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The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attack. "The last thing I saw was a big ball of fire", he said.

The body of Haroon Bilour was later shifted to Bilour House where ANP workers gathered in great numbers to pay respect to their deceased leader.

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.

Chief Election Commissioner Raza Khan said the attack on an electoral candidate, despite the ECP's directions to provide security, was a result of the security institutions' negligence. But ANP leaders have vowed to continue their campaign this year despite the bombing in Peshawar. Officials have said that while the threat remains, terrorists have been significantly weakened because of military operations in recent years.

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

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