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Top secular leader among 20 killed in suicide blast at election rally in Pakistan
A senior secular leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) and 19 others were killed when a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up in an election rally in Pakistan’s northwestern Peshawar city, the second terrorist attack on a political rally ahead of the July 25 general elections.
The powerful blast, which also injured 66 people, took place shortly before midnight last night when ANP leader Haroon Bilour, who was contesting elections from PK-78 constituency in Peshawar city, along with other party workers had gathered for a corner meeting in the congested Yakatoot area.
The blast occurred near Bilour’s vehicle.
Bilour was the son of the late ANP leader Bashir Bilour, who was also killed in a similar suicide attack when a Taliban bomber blew himself up at a party meet in Peshawar in 2012.
The death toll was initially reported at 13 but it rose to 20 overnight, Lady Reading Hospital’s spokesperson Zulfiqar Ali Baba Khel said.
The attack was claimed by banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the TTP, identified the suicide bomber as Mujahid Abdul Karim, who targeted ANP leader Bilour.
Bilour had suffered serious injuries in the blast and was shifted to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
“I t was the revenge of killing and imprisonment of scores of Mujahidden (militants) during ANP regime,” Khurasani said, adding that the secular ANP party would remain on target list of TTP. Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik said eight kg TNT explosive was used in the blast.
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