ANP’s Haroon Bilour, 19 others martyred in Peshawar blast

The bomber targeted a meeting of the Awami National Party in Peshawar

The bomber targeted a meeting of the Awami National Party in Peshawar

"According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour... was the target", police official Shafqat Malik told AFP.

Police said the bomber struck when Bilour was about to address his supporters.

The Election Commission has delayed the election on Peshawar's PK-78, from where ANP leader Haroon Bilour was contesting.

The ANP leader's funeral prayers will be offered at Wazir Bagh Peshawar at 5:00 pm on Wednesday.

The attack was a conspiracy against the transparent elections, the CEC said, noting that the provincial governments were ordered to provide fool-proof security to all candidates.

The ANP governed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, from 2008 to 2013. At least six people, wounded during the blast, were said to be in critical condition at Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital. This was the first major incident of violence ahead of the elections in Pakistan. He said around eight kilograms of explosive material was used in the attack.

Haroon Bilour was the son of senior ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour who was killed when a Pakistani Taliban bomber blew himself up in a party meeting in Peshawar in 2012.

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This is the second attack before Pakistan's assembly elections.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the attack. Islamic extremists killed hundreds of ANP leaders and supporters in attacks around the 2013 election.

ANP senior leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the attack was meant to derail democracy and delay the elections scheduled for July 25. "We were waiting at the venue when we heard an explosion as soon as Bilour's vehicle approached the gate", he said.

More than 380,000 personnel will be deployed for the elections, according to Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman.

Peshawar city sits on the edge of a region bordering Afghanistan that has always been home to extremists.

On July 9, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had briefed the Senate Committee on Interior about threats to the leaders of the political parties especially those of ANP. Officials have said that while the threat remains, terrorists 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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