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Pre-election violence rattles KP, Balochistan; 26 killed

07 May, 2013

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PESHAWAR: Twenty-six people were killed and more than 70 others injured in a blast at the election rally of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidates in the central Kurram Agency on Monday, official sources said.

Along with the local tribesmen, two bodyguards of the JUI-F candidate from NA-38, Munir Orakzai, and six of his close relatives were also injured in the blast at a Madrassa in Sewak village in Kurram tribal region.

There were conflicting reports about the nature of the explosion as some said a suicide bomber blew himself up when Munir Orakzai was about to leave the venue after delivering his speech. However, his family members insisted that unidentified people had planted an improvised explosive device (IED) in the seminary where the election rally had been organised.

Kurram Agency Political Agent Riaz Mahsud said that the blast was caused by an IED. He said JUI-F candidates from Kurram Agency, Munir Orakzai and Maulana Ainuddin Shakir, were addressing the gathering at the seminary in Sewak village in the Parachamkani area when the remote-controlled explosive device went off. He added that 10 kilo explosives were used in the blast.

The political agent initially stated that 10 people were killed and 36 others injured in the blast and that the JUI-F candidates remained unhurt. However, later in the evening it became known that 23 people were killed and around 70 others injured in the blast.

Dr Inayatullah Khan, the administrator of the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Sadda, said 20 bodies and 65 injured were brought to the hospital. He said some tribesmen took bodies of their relatives to their villages instead of bringing them to the hospital.

He said around 65 injured were still under treatment at the hospital in Sadda and some were in serious condition. He added that those in need of advanced treatment were shifted to hospitals in Hangu, Kohat and Peshawar.

Dr Inayatullah said a state of emergency was declared at the hospital after receiving the report about the blast and all the injured were provided free health services. Dr Abdul Qadir, the younger brother of JUI-F candidate Munir Orakzai, told that his brother didn't suffer injury in the blast. He said most of the blast victims were taken to hospitals in Sadda and Parachinar.

Meanwhile, the proscribed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack on the JUI-F rally and said Munir Orakzai was the target. It added that the JUI-F party activists weren't a target.

TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said they had been trying for long to locate and kill Munir Orakzai as he had remained an active member of the coalition government of the PPP, MQM and ANP.

TTP chief Hakimullah Mahsud had mentioned Munir Orakzai's name in a videotape released in the past by his organisation. In the video, Hakimullah Masood is seen personally shooting dead former ISI official Col Ameer Sultan, commonly known as Col Imam, while accusing Munir Orakzai of selling the Arab fighters to the US.

President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned a bomb blast in Kurram Agency. The president expressed his heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved families and directed the authorities concerned to ensure provision of the best possible medical care to the injured.

The president also conveyed his grief and sorrow to those who had lost their lives and prayed to Allah Almighty to grant courage to the bereaved families to bear this loss with fortitude.

Prime Minister Justice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso has strongly condemned the incident and directed the Ministry of Interior and governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to submit separate reports on the incident.

Meanwhile, attacks on high profile candidates and polling stations continued unabated in various districts of Balochistan on Monday. As many as three persons were injured when the cavalcade of Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, the president of National Party (NP), was attacked by unidentified persons in Turbat.

Turbat police official Siraj Ahmed said that the incident occurred at a time when Dr Abdul Malik Baloch along with Dr Yaseen Baloch was returning from the electoral procession. He said that some unidentified persons attacked the convoy with a hand grenade. However, Dr. Abdul Malik and his party workers narrowly escaped the attack, whereas three pedestrians were injured in retaliatory fire.

Talking to our sources, National Party spokesman Jan Buledi strongly condemned the attack. The National Party workers staged a protest demonstration in front of Quetta Press Club following the attack. Meanwhile, four schools and a dispensary were blown up in blasts and rocket attacks in Barkhan and Mastung districts on Monday. The schools were designated as polling stations. According to the Balochistan levies sources, a school building was which was to be used as a polling station was destroyed in a rocket attack, however no loss of life was reported.

Separately, unidentified armed men blew up three polling stations with explosives. In Nushki district unidentified armed men fired indiscriminately at a school designated as a polling station. There was no loss of life. In yet another incident, a driver of the election commission was injured in the firing by security forces in Sariab, Quetta, after he failed to heed a stop signal.

Militants targeted an election office of a PPP candidate in Charsadda on Monday. According to police, miscreants planted a bomb outside the election office of provincial assembly candidate from PK-22 Asadullah Amirzai in tehsil Shabqadar of Charsadda district. The blast partially damaged the election office but the candidate and party activists remained unhurt.

End.

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