Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for bombing at rally that killed 21

Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for bombing at rally that killed 21

The Pakistani Taliban said it was behind the attack, which targeted the Awami National Party (ANP) rally in the city of Peshawar.

A case over the incident has been registered at police station Agha Mir Jani Shah with SHO Wajid Ali as the complainant.

This is the second terrorist attack on an election rally in Pakistan ahead of the July 25 general election. He was the eldest son of Bashir Bilour and was contesting elections from the same constituency as his late father.

Local authorities said a preliminary investigation concluded that the attack was targeted on Bilour and that "a young boy blew himself up at the main entrance of the gathering when Bilour entered the venue", Dawn newspaper reports.

Bomb disposal squad chief Shafqat Malik said eight kilos of TNT explosive was used in the blast.

The Associated Press further notes, "Islamic extremists grew to despise the ANP when it ruled the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, from 2008 to 2013".

The military launched a major offensive against militants in the Swat Valley during that period.

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On July 4, NACTA Director Obaid Farooq while briefing a sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had said, "We have received as many as 12 threat alerts which are about leadership of political parties, including the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and six personalities can be targeted during elections".

The following year in 2013, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for an attack at an ANP rally in Peshawar, in which 15 people were killed. He suffered serious injuries and was shifted to hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Another party worker, Yaseen Khan, said a deafening explosion rocked the compound as Haroon Bilour shook hands with supporters. Hospital officials feared the death toll might rise as several of the injured were in critical condition. No group has claimed responsibility of the attack.

Pakistan's Election Commission has asked the military to help hold a "free and fair election" in the face of security threats.

Bilour's family called on his supporters to remain calm.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza denounced the attack, saying: "This shows weakness of our security institutions and a conspiracy against transparent elections".

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