Peshawar, Taliban attack election rally: 20 dead and over 60 wounded
Victims include Haroon Bilor, one of the leading exponents of the Awami National Party. The bomber was loaded with eight kilos of explosives. Protests against the Islamabad government: "No guarantee of security". Deployment of over 371 thousand soldiers to defend polling stations.
Peshawar (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 20 people have died and 63 have been injured in an attack that took place around midnight yesterday in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, on an election rally of the Awami National Party (ANP).
The attack was the work of a single kamikaze loaded with about eight kilograms of explosives and was claimed a few hours ago by the Islamic terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani described the carnage as a "revenge for the previous government of the NPC" and promised further attacks in view of the upcoming elections of 25 July.
Haroon Bilor (see photo 2), 47, one of the leading political figures of the party and a candidate in the local constituency (PK-78) was among the victims. Initial investigations suggest he was the main target of the attack. Witnesses relay that the bomber blew himself up when he approached the car carrying the politician, in the area of Yakatoot. His funeral will take place today at five o'clock in the afternoon (local time) at Wazir Bagh.
The incident has already provoked the first polemics by Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, former judge at the head of the electoral committee (Cec), who laments a "weakness of the institutions" in guaranteeing the security of the election.
Then he added that the attack is a "conspiracy against transparent elections". Even for Mian Iftikhar Hussain, leader of the PNA, "the government has failed to guarantee protection. Perhaps someone wants to sabotage the elections and push our party out of the electoral race ".
Meanwhile, Asif Ghafoor, a senior general of the Pakistani army and his spokesman, said that over 371 thousand soldiers - about a third of the armed forces - will be deployed to defend the 85 thousand seats. Of the announced troops, at least 135 thousand are retired former soldiers recalled in service for the occasion.