Thousands attend funeral of Pakistan politician killed by Taliban

Pakistani residents offer funeral prayers for blast victims, who were killed in a suicide bombing at an election rally, during their funeral in Peshawar on July 11, 2018. The death toll in a suicide bombing at an election rally in northwestern Pakistan rose to 20 as Taliban militants claimed responsibility, officials said, in the first major attack ahead of July 25 polls. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2018
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Thousands attend funeral of Pakistan politician killed by Taliban

  • Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Peshawar
  • Police said the bomber struck when Bilour was about to address some 200 supporters

PESHAWAR: Thousands flocked to the funeral Wednesday of a politician killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in northwestern Pakistan's Peshawar, hours after the explosion left 20 dead in the first major attack ahead of July 25 polls.
A senior police official estimated that 30,000 people attended the funeral of the local leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), Haroon Bilour, was among those killed in the attack late Tuesday during an election rally.
Party workers cried and hugged, while others looked on in shock as funeral prayers were said.
Markets were also closed across the bustling frontier hub near the Afghan border out of respect for those killed in the attack.
The ANP has been targeted by Islamist militants in the past over its vocal opposition to extremist groups like the Taliban.
The bombing came hours after Pakistan's military spokesman said there were security threats ahead of the national elections.
Bomb disposal chief Shafqat Malik told AFP that the suicide bomber -- who he said was around 16 years old -- had eight kilograms (18 pounds) of explosives and three kilograms of pellets, ball bearings and other shrapnel on his body.
Peshawar lawyers went on strike on Wednesday to protest and mourn the death of Haroon, who was also a barrister.
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.
His father Bashir Bilour, one of the ANP's top leaders, was also killed by a suicide bomber in 2012.
Police said the bomber struck when Bilour was about to address some 200 supporters.
Mohammad Khorasani, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
He said the militants "have already declared a war" on the ANP and called on the public to keep away from them, "or you will be responsible for your own loss".
Peshawar is considered a gateway to Pakistan's troubled semi-autonomous tribal regions, where many militant groups -- including Al-Qaeda -- operated until the government launched operations to oust them.
The attack comes weeks after the TTP's leader Maulana Fazlullah was killed in a drone strike in Afghanistan in what the Pakistani army called a "positive development".
Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Peshawar.
But security across Pakistan, including in Peshawar, has dramatically improved since government and military operations in recent years.
Analysts warn however that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism.


Candidate from Sharif’s party escapes gun attack in Pakistan

Updated 39 min 31 sec ago
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Candidate from Sharif’s party escapes gun attack in Pakistan

  • Sheikh Aftab Ahmed came under attack late Monday in Attock district while returning from a rally, says local police official
  • He said Ahmed was safe Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police say a candidate running for a seat in parliament from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s political party has escaped an assassination attempt in eastern Punjab province.
Local police official Mohammad Afzal said Tuesday that Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, who served as a minister in Sharif’s former government, came under attack late Monday in Attock district while returning from a rally. He said Ahmed was safe Tuesday.
The incident is the latest election-related violence after Friday’s killing of a candidate and 152 others in separate bombings.
Ahmed is from Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party. Sharif was arrested Friday upon returning from London to face a 10-year prison sentence for corruption.