Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

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

The bomber targeted a meeting of the Awami National Party in Peshawar The bomber targeted a meeting of the Awami National Party in Peshawar
Kenny Thornton | 11 July, 2018, 12:43

The son of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior ANP figure who, himself, was martyred in a suicide attack in 2012 after a party meeting, Haroon was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition but succumbed to his wounds shortly after. Footage showed volunteers and police rushing the wounded to hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Tuesday's attack.

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.

The politicians facing security threats included the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief ministers Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Akram Durrani and ANP's Ameer Haider Hoti.

They have often been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban and their allies.

Peshawar 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.

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A police officer in plain clothes collects evidence from the site after a suicide attack during an election campaign meeting in Peshawar, Pakistan July 10, 2018.

An AFP reporter saw human remains, shoes, broken chairs, and caps littered at the scene. "The last thing I saw was a big ball of fire", he said.

His body was later taken to Bilour House where party workers paid tributes to him.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the assassination of ANP leader Haroon and others martyred in the suicide bomb attack targeting the political gathering in Peshawar's Yakatoot area.

This was the first major attack on a campaign event for the July 25 general election. ANP leader Iftikhar Hussain said the funeral prayers of Haroon Bilour will be offered on Wednesday at 5pm at Wazir Bagh in Peshawar. More than 380,000 personnel will be deployed for the elections, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesperson.

On July 9, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had briefed the Senate Committee on Interior about threats to the leaders of the political parties especially those of ANP. Officials have said that while the threat remains, terrorists have been significantly weakened because of military operations in recent years.

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