DEADLY BLAST HITS PAKISTAN ELECTION RALLY

     Peshawar, 7 Jumadil Akhir 1434/17 April 2013 (MINA) – An explosion in Pakistan has killed at least nine people and wounded dozens more at an election campaign rally being attended by a senior politician, Tuesday (16/4) in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

     A senior leader of the secular Awami National Party (ANP), Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, escaped the blast with only minor bruises, officials say, according to Al Jazeera report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

     Doctors were treating some 50 people wounded in the explosion, including dozens who were in critical condition, a hospital official said

     The media reported, Pakistan’s umbrella Taliban faction claimed responsibility for what was the fourth deadly attack on politicians or political parties in three days as the country prepares to hold historic polls on May 11.

     Bilour, who served as railways minister in the outgoing government, escaped the Peshawar bombing with cuts and bruises. He was shown on television footage with blood splattered on his trousers after the attack.

     “At least nine people have been killed and 53 others wounded in the suicide bombing,” senior police official Faisal Murad told Al Jazeera source.

     Bilour, whose brother the late ANP leader Bashir Bilour was assassinated by the Taliban last year, became a target after the Taliban posted a $100,000 ransom for the death of a film-maker behind a controversial anti-Islam film last year.

     The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, but apologised for injuring Bilour, saying it had been targeting his nephew, Haroon.

      “We apologise to Ghulam Bilour because we announced an amnesty for him,” Ehsanullah Ehsan, Taliban spokesman, told a France news agency by telephone from an undisclosed location. “Our target was Haroon Bilour,” Ehsan say.

      Haroon is the son of slain ANP leader Bashir, the elder brother of Ghulam, who was killed in a bombing attack at a political meeting in Peshawar on December 22.

      The Taliban has directly threatened the ANP and its outgoing coalition partners, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which are perceived as secular. (T/P09/P03)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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