Pakistan election rally blast toll up to 20, ANP leader among victims

Pakistani relative mourn the death of their family member at a hospital in Peshawar

Pakistani relative mourn the death of their family member at a hospital in Peshawar Credit Muhammad Sajjad AP

A suicide bomb attack at an election rally in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed at least 14 people, including prominent local politician Haroon Bilour, police said.

"In solidarity with the Bilour family & ANP I've suspended my political activities for today and Peshawar jalsa which was to be held tomorrow". Bilour's father, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, was killed by a suicide bomber during a meeting in 2012 ahead of the vote.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but there have been dozens of such bombings in recent years in Peshawar.

The attack targeted a campaign event organised in the city of Peshawar by the Awami National Party, which has been targeted by terrorists in the past over its vocal opposition to extremist groups like the Taliban. The military waged a major offensive against militants in the Swat Valley in 2009. The ANP, which campaigns against the Taliban, has been a regular target of militants operating in Pakistan's northwest. But many militants have escaped to neighbouring Afghanistan, from where Islamabad alleges they launch attacks inside Pakistan.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday postponed election on a provincial assembly seat in Peshawar, PK-78, after a suicide blast in the provincial capital's Yakatoot area that killed at least 21 people, including a candidate who was to contest from the constituency, ARY News reported.

As an ambulance carried the body of Bilour, his 16-year-old son Danyal Bilour sat on the vehicle's roof.

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Instagram, like many other social networks (Facebook, Twitter , YouTube, Telegram), undergo periodic interlocks in the country. It shows her without a mandatory headscarf, which is obligatory in the conservative Islamic republic.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority on Monday had told a Senate standing committee that some leading political leaders faced death threats from militant outfits ahead of the 25 July general elections in Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan's military warned of security threats in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for July 25. That is more than five times the number of troops deployed during the last elections in 2013, when the security situation was much worse.

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

Almost 135,000 of the troops have been called up from retirement.

Last month, a US drone strike killed Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah in eastern Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban appointed Mufti Noor Wali Mahsud as their new chief shortly thereafter.

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