Taliban attack poll rally in Pakistan, 20 killed

Islamabad, May 7: The Taliban carried out a bomb attack at a crowded political rally in Kurram tribal belt along the Afghan border on Monday, killing at least 20 people and injuring 45. The deadly attack took place just a few days ahead of the historic national elections in the country.

The attack took place when several thousand tribesmen assembled at a madrasa to hear Munir Khan Orakzai, a former member of the Parliament. The bomb went off moments after Orakzai finished his speech and was stepping off the dais. Orakzai was not injured in the explosion, which had otherwise devastated the area. People were seen crying for help after chaos and panic set in.

What surprised all was that Orakzai is a candidate for Jamiat-e-Islam, a religious party which has close links to the Taliban. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack and said that Orakzai had betrayed Arab Jihadists who had been caught by the Pakistani Army and was sent to American custody.

A source in the government, however, said that the Taliban are attacking candidates who have refused to pay protection money to prevent attacks.

The latest attack raised the deat toll from Taliban attacks since the campaigning for the election began on April 11 to over 80. The continuous blood-spill shows the terrorists' determination to disrupt the May 11 election. The poll is historic for it will be first time in the country's history that one democratically elected government will hand over power to another democratically elected government.

Until now, the militants have mainly targetted candidates from the two secular parties, the Awami National Party, based in the northwest and the Muttahid Qaumi Movement, based mainly in Peshawar.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a favourite to form the next government , although he will face a stiff challenge in his home province Punjab from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, the leader of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI). Both Sharif and Khan have criticised the Taliban in a measured way and neither have suffered attack. However, according to the caretaker government, both are at risk of being attacked.

A hand-grenade attack took place at a meeting of Khan's PTI on Sunday, in which three people were injured. 

OneIndia News

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