Islamabad, Feb.10: A powerful bomb ripped through a public meeting of the Awami National Party here on Saturday, killing 25 people and injuring 51 others. The Dawn quoted officials as saying that the bomb had been planted near the stage and the explosion occurred as soon as recitation from the Holy Quran began. The ANP's president, Asfandyar Wali Khan, said the explosion was a conspiracy to delay the polls and announced a three-day mourning period.
Afrasiab Khattak, the party's provincial chief who was on the stage at the time, remained unhurt, while its candidate from a provincial assembly constituency (PF-21), Masoom Shah, was injured. He was still in the operation theatre when reports last came in.
District official Farman Ali was quoted by the paper as saying that 25 people had been killed. Five of the bodies were taken to the district headquarters hospital. The hospital placed 33 of the injured in its emergency ward.
A doctor told Dawn that one headless and two other unidentified bodies had been brought to the hospital. A policeman was also killed in the explosion.
The site was littered with charred bodies and wounded people. Pieces of human flesh clung from the walls and the roof of the building. The air was filled with the stench of human blood.
This was the third major explosion in Charsadda district over the past ten months. A suicide bomber struck a public meeting addressed by former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao on April 28, leaving 32 dead. Sherpao remained unhurt.
Another explosion rocked a mosque during Eidul Azha prayers on Dec 21. It claimed 57 lives. Sherpao was once again among the survivors.
The ANP chief warned that killing of Pukhtuns would endanger the country's integrity.