ANP leader among dead in Peshawar blast ahead of upcoming polls

This file photo shows Haroon Bilour arriving at his residence in Peshawar on April 25, 2013. (A MAJEED/AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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ANP leader among dead in Peshawar blast ahead of upcoming polls

  • The explosion took place at an Awami National Party (ANP) corner meeting in Peshawar
  • Haroon Bilour was the son of senior ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour, was going to contest the elections from PK-78 Peshawar

ISLAMABAD: Police officials in Peshawar told Arab News the death toll from a likely targeted attack on ANP’s (Awami National Party) corner meeting gathering late Tuesday evening has risen to at least 12 dead and 36 injured. Officials fear the number could rise and are investigating the bombing site.

Haroon Bilour, son of assassinated senior ANP leader Bashir Bilour killed in 2012 in a suicide attack also in Peshawar was among the dead.

After Bilour received multiple critical injuries, he was rushed to a nearby hospital. He succumbed to his wounds shortly after. Several people, wounded during the blast, were said to be in critical condition at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital.

The party’s leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain condemned the attack and called it the pinnacle of terrorism, reported a local tv network. He said the aim of this heinous act is to derail the democratic system in Pakistan and a conspiracy to postpone the July 25 scheduled elections.
A bystander described the anger of people at the venue. He told Arab News that a crowd is chanting anti-police slogans following the attack, a security lapse which cost several lives despite the umbrella counter terrorism authority NACTA (National Counter Terrorism Authority) which pools information from all law enforcement and intelligence agencies had issued alerts of potential threats last week.
The bombing on Tuesday evening came following NACTA’s briefing to a Senate Committee on Interior on Monday warning of possible terror threats to prominent electoral candidates.

Six leading political contenders in Pakistan’s July 25 poll are being targeted by terrorists, according to the country’s counter terrorism watchdog.


French police clear fuel protesters as movement wanes

Updated 48 min 50 sec ago
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French police clear fuel protesters as movement wanes

PARIS: French police cleared demonstrators blocking roads and fuel depots Tuesday in a crackdown on the so-called "yellow vest" protests against President Emmanuel Macron that have left two people dead.
Hundreds of thousands of people blockaded roads across France on the weekend, wearing high-visibility yellow vests in a national wave of defiance aimed at 40-year-old centrist Macron.
The protests had waned by Tuesday but the disruption underlined the anger and frustration felt by many motorists, particularly in rural areas or small towns, fed up with what they see as the government's anti-car policies, including tax hikes on diesel.
Macron, who has made a point of not backing down in the face of public pressure during his time in office, called Tuesday for more "dialogue" to better explain his policies.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, meanwhile, urged ruling Republic On The Move lawmakers to stand firm in the face of voter criticism, saying the party would reap the rewards of its "constancy and determination".
Two people have been accidentally killed and 530 people injured, 17 seriously, over four days of protests that have come to encompass a wide variety of grievances over the rising cost of living.
A 37-year-old motorcyclist died Tuesday from injuries sustained a day earlier after being hit by a truck making a u-turn to avoid a roadblock in the southeast Drome region, a judicial source said.
The other victim was a 63-year-old woman accidently killed by a panicked driver in the eastern Savoie region on the first day of protests.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has instructed police to break up the remaining roadblocks, particularly those around fuel depots and sites of strategic importance.
"We can see today that there are real excesses from a movement that was for the most part conducted in good spirit on Saturday," he told France 2 TV.
The ministry said about 20 "strategic" sites and fuel depots in several regions were cleared of protesters Tuesday.
Some hardliners kept blockades and slowdowns at some tolls, motorway junctions, and roundabouts.
"The movement won't run out of steam," said Olivier Garrigues, a farmworker at one protest in the south. "There are less people because everyone is working. But we are organised."
Several of the injuries were caused by motorists trying to force their way through roadblocks, but some protesters have also been accused of intimidating and endangering motorists.
A 32-year-old man with a history of violence was given a four-month prison sentence by a Strasbourg court for putting lives at risk by taking part in a human chain across a motorway.
Protests have also erupted in Reunion, a French overseas territory island in the Indian Ocean, where authorities introduced a partial curfew in some neighbourhoods after a night of violence.
AFP judicial sources Tuesday denied media reports that a group of men arrested earlier this month in the city of Saint-Etienne on suspicion of plotting an attack had planned to strike during Saturday's fuel protests.
On Tuesday, the "yellow vests" appeared to be losing steam, with only a fraction of the nearly 300,000 people that manned the barricades on Saturday still camped out in the bitter cold.
Further protests are planned for the weekend, with some calling for a blockade of Paris.
The grassroots movement, which has won backing from opposition parties on both the left and right as well as a majority of respondents in opinion polls, accuses Macron of squeezing the less well-off while reducing taxes for the rich.
"It's about much more than fuel. They (the government) have left us with nothing," Dominique, a 50-year-old unemployed technician told AFP at a roadblock in the town of Martigues, near the southern city of Marseille.
Macron's government, trying to improve its environmental credentials, has vowed not to back down on trying to wean people off their cars through fuel taxes.
The government has unveiled a 500-million-euro package of measures to help low-income households, including energy subsidies and higher scrappage bonuses for the purchase of cleaner vehicles.