A deadly Peshawar suicide blast has killed at least 14 people including the Awami National party candidate Barrister Haroon Bilour, and severely wounded others.
The barbaric incident happened when a suicide bomber blew himself up in YakaToot neighborhood moments after Haroon Bilour arrived at the venue near the stage late Tuesday ahead of a corner meeting held here.
Haroon Bilour was due to address the supporters at the meeting. The party members and admirers engaged in fireworks to welcome him. Suicide bomber used the firework as his cover.
The late ANP candidate Haroon Bilour was set to contest the Pakistan elections 2018 from Peshawar’s PK-78 constituency.
At least 65 other people were wounded in the bomb explosion. 15 of those were in a critical condition.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the suicide attack. This marks the first major pre-election instance of violence. Live television footage showed volunteers and police rushing the wounded to hospital.
Qazi Jamil, the capital city police officer (CCPO) for Peshawar, declared the death toll to 14. He also informed that nearly eight kilogrammes worth of TNT explosives were used in the suicide blast.
The Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) confirmed that the blast was a suicide attack.
Deceased ANP leader Haroon Bilour was the son of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior ANP figure who, himself, was martyred in a suicide blast back in 2012. Haroon Bilour was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition but could not survive.
The ANP was the main target of Taliban attacks in the 2013 election.
Earlier, Zulfiqar Ali Babakhel, a spokesperson for the Lady Reading Hospital, confirmed the death toll from the blast and said 35 wounded people were brought to the hospital.
The spokesperson also informed that Haroon Bilour’s son Danial Bilour is safe from the suicide attack.
The martyred ANP leader’s body was returned to his residence a few hours later, with funeral prayers scheduled to be held later today, at 5 PM, in Wazir Bagh.
Lack of Proper Security to Politicians
Speaking about the barbaric incident, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retired) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan condemned the suicide attack and termed it a “weakness of security institutions”.
He said that the suicide attack is a conspiracy against the transparent elections 2018. Provincial governments were instructed to provide fool-proof security to all contesting candidates.
On the other hand, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the caretaker government had failed to provide security to the party.
He also said, “Perhaps someone wishes to sabotage the elections 2018 … wants to push ANP out of the electoral race. However, the “ANP will fully participate in the elections.”
Condemnations from Politicians on Haroon Bilour Killing
Caretaker Prime Minister Nasir ul Mulk and the heads of various political parties condemned the suicide attack on the ANP corner meeting.
Nawaz Sharif said terrorists were making futile attempts to hinder the way of democracy. He said, the militants, however, “failed yesterday and they will fail today too.”
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Shehbaz Sharif said he was “grieved to learn about shahadat of Haroon Bilour” and he “strongly condemn this barbaric act of terrorism”.
Bilour family has suffered the worst terrorist violence & rendered sacrifices for Pakistan. Basheer Bilour Shaheed was a brave leader who was martyred 6 years ago. Son of Haroon Bilour is reported to be critically injured along with others. Pray for his & others’ early recovery https://t.co/DCWRh2HgOA
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) July 10, 2018
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has also expressed sorrow over the deaths of Haroon Bilour and other ANP workers.
In his message on Twitter, Imran Khan condemned the terrorist attack on ANP corner meeting.
Sad to learn of Haroon Bilour and 2 other ANP workers deaths and strongly condemn the terrorist attack at the ANP corner mtg in Peshawar. All political parties and their candidates must be provided proper security during their election campaigns by the State.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 10, 2018
The PTI chief Imran Khan also demanded security to all political parties and their contesting candidates during their election campaigns.
Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed sorrow over the martyrdom of Haroon Bilour. He said,
“The terror attack on pro-democracy individuals is a conspiracy. The nation should be aware of the fact as to what do terrorists wish.”
Asif Ali Zardari, the PPP’s co-chairman 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 those responsible of Peshawar suicide blast to justice.