ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

His father Bashir Bilour, also a prominent politician, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2012. The blast took place shortly before midnight when Bilour along with ANP workers had gathered for a corner meeting in the congested Yakatoot area.

The ANP and its ally the Pakistan Peoples Party were unable to campaign for the last general election in 2013 because of threats and attacks on their events and supporters by militant groups like the Taliban.

The home department had directed the authorities concerned to provide security to the candidates of the PPP and ANP during their election campaigns.

Earlier this month, seven people, including a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, were injured in an explosion during an election rally near Takhtikhel, which is also in the KPK province.

The ANP, which governed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province from 2008 to 2013, has been a continual target of militant groups operating in the northwest.

Mohammad Khorasani, spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan militant group, claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan speaking to media on July 11, 2018. Bilour was set to contest the July 25 elections from the Peshawar's PK-78 constituency. More than 380,000 personnel will be deployed for the elections, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesperson. He said the deployment was requested by the elections oversight body.

He told reporters the military would not be directly involved in the voting and insisted it remained neutral. "Our loyalty is only with Pakistan".

"This shows the weakness of our security institutions and a conspiracy against transparent elections", he said in a statement.

The military has ruled Pakistan directly and indirectly for most of its 71-year history.

‎"The death toll from last night's suicide attack has reached 20 while we have 65 injured, some of them in critical condition", Zulfiqar Ali Babakhel, a spokesman for Peshawar's main Lady Reading Hospital, told Reuters.

On July 4, NACTA Director Obaid Farooq while briefing a sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior had said, "We have received as many as 12 threat alerts which are about leadership of political parties, including the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and six personalities can be targeted during elections".