Suicide bombing kills 12 at north-west Pakistan election rally

A supporter of Awami National Party receives medical treatment after he was injured in the attack.
A supporter of Awami National Party receives medical treatment after he was injured in the attack.PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A man collects sandals of people who were killed.
A man collects sandals of people who were killed.PHOTO: REUTERS
Awami National Party supporters react after the attack.
Awami National Party supporters react after the attack.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - A suicide bombing at an election rally killed at least 12 people, including a politician, in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday (July 10), police said, amid concerns about security ahead of elections later this month.

The attack targeted a campaign event organised in the city of Peshawar by the Awami National Party, which has been targeted by Islamist militants in the past over its vocal opposition to extremist groups like the Taleban.

The bombing came hours after the Pakistan military spokesman said there were security threats ahead of national elections scheduled for July 25.

"According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour... was the target," police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.

Officials said at least 34 people were wounded.

Haroon Bilour was one of the ANP's election candidates and belonged to an influential political family in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.

"The attack killed at least 12 people, including (Haroon) Bilour," Peshawar city police chief Qazi Jameel told AFP.

His father Bashir Bilour, one of the ANP's top leaders, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2012.

Police said the bomber struck when Haroon Bilour was about to address some 200 supporters.

Local television channels broadcast live scenes of ambulances arriving at the site and rushing victims to the hospital. Some people were seen crying.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but there have been dozens of major bombings in recent years in Peshawar - a gateway to Pakistan's troubled tribal regions.

Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in the city.