Peshawar suicide blast: Haroon Bilour to be laid to rest today


PESHAWAR: The death toll in the Peshawar suicide attack, which claimed the life of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Barrister Haroon Bilour, has increased to 20, Geo News reported Wednesday morning.

Presently, 62 people injured in the suicide attack are seeking treatment at Lady Reading Hospital, authorities confirmed.

The explosion occurred in Yakatoot neighborhood moments after Bilour arrived at the venue, near the stage, to address supporters at the meeting as welcoming party members and admirers engaged in a display of fireworks.

The late ANP candidate was set to contest the July 25 elections from Peshawar’s PK-78 constituency.

At least 65 other people were wounded in the explosion, and 15 of those were in a critical condition, according to hospital sources.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which marks the first major pre-election instance of violence. Live television footage showed volunteers and police rushing the wounded to hospital.

Immediately after the explosion, Qazi Jamil, the capital city police officer (CCPO) for Peshawar, put the death toll from the blast at 11, which, over the new couple of hours, rose to 14. Nearly eight kilograms worth of TNT explosives were used in the blast, he added.

The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) confirmed that the blast was a suicide attack.

The son of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior ANP figure who, himself, was martyred in a suicide blast back in 2012, Haroon was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition but succumbed to his wounds shortly after.

The ANP was the main target of Taliban attacks in the 2013 election.

‘Weakness of security institutions’

Speaking about the incident, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retired) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan condemned the terrorist attack and termed it a “weakness of security institutions”.

The attack was a conspiracy against the transparent elections, the CEC said, noting that the provincial governments were ordered to provide fool-proof security to all candidates.

On the other hand, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the government had failed to provide security to the party.

“Perhaps someone wishes to sabotage the elections … wants to push ANP out of the electoral race,” he said.

However, the “ANP will fully participate in the elections”, he added.

Condemnations pour in

Caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk and the heads of various political parties denounced the attack.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said terrorists were making futile attempts to hinder the way of democracy.

The militants, however, “failed yesterday and they will fail today too”, he added.

The PTI chief called for the provision of security to all political parties and their candidates during their election campaigns

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed sorrow over the martyrdom of Haroon Bilour. He said it was becoming clear as to who terrorists wanted out of the election race.

“The terror attack on pro-democracy individuals is a conspiracy,” Bilawal said, adding that they shared in the grief of the Bilour family. “The nation should be aware of the fact as to what do terrorists wish.”

Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP’s co-chairman and former president of Pakistan, said the Bhutto family and his party grieved together with the ANP.

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal said those, who had their hands colored with the blood of innocents, did not deserve to be considered as humans.

He called the authorities for bringing the perpetrators of Peshawar blast to justice.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif said he was “grieved to learn about shahadat of Haroon Bilour” and that he “strongly condemn[ed] this barbaric act of terrorism”.

War on terrorism

Peshawar city sits on the edge of a region bordering Afghanistan that has long been home to extremists.

While the violence in Pakistan decreased in recent months after several military offensives against their strongholds in the region, many terrorists escaped to neighboring Afghanistan, from where Islamabad says they launch attacks.

Last month, a US drone strike killed the Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who had claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against the ANP in the 2013 election on the grounds that it had supported operations against the militants.

The Pakistan Army announced on Tuesday it would deploy over 371,000 troops to ensure peaceful and fair and free elections on July 25.


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