Elections in PK-78 suspended in aftermath of Haroon Bilour's death

Leroy Wright
July 11, 2018

The death toll in the Peshawar suicide attack, which claimed the life of Awami National Party (ANP) election candidate Barrister Haroon Bilour, has increased to 20, Geo News reported Wednesday morning.

According to ECP, voting in the constituency will be held after general elections 2018 whereas the date will also be announced later.

Last month, a USA drone strike killed the Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who had claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against the ANP in the 2013 election on the grounds that it had supported military operations against the militants.

Haroon Bilour belonged to an influential political family in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.

Haroon Bilour was the son of senior ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a figure who was himself killed in a suicide blast in Peshawar in 2012.

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The bombing came hours after the Pakistan military spokesman said there were security threats ahead of national elections scheduled for July 25. But many militants have escaped to neighbouring Afghanistan, from where Islamabad alleges they launch attacks inside Pakistan.

An AFP reporter saw human remains, shoes, broken chairs, and caps littered at the scene.

Reacting to the incident, Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk, Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Rehman Malik, Chief Election Commissioner Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif and supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, condemned the attack and death of the ANP leader. "I lost consciousness after the blast", he said. "The last thing I saw was a big ball of fire", he said.

Another party worker, Yaseen Khan, said a deafening explosion rocked the compound as Bilour shook hands with supporters. More than 380,000 personnel will be deployed for the elections, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesperson.

Peshawar city sits on the edge of a region bordering Afghanistan that has always been home to Islamist militants. Officials have said that while the threat remains, militants have been significantly weakened because of military operations in recent years. Peshawar is considered as a gateway to Pakistan's troubled tribal regions, from where many terror groups including al Qaeda are allegedly operated.

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