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17 April 2024

Suicide bomber kills at least 18 at election rally in Pakistan

By Agencies

A suicide bomber struck at an election rally on Saturday in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 25 others, police and other officials said.

The blast occurred at a rally of the Awami National Party – a secular, ethnic Pashtun group – in the town of Charsadda in the turbulent North West Frontier province, where Islamic extremists operate.

Mohammed Khan, an area police chief, put the death toll at 18. Local television stations quoted party officials as saying 20 had died.

Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz said the attack was believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives “very close to the stage” where party officials were assembled.

Afrasiab Khattak, the party’s provincial leader and a prominent human rights champion, was addressing the rally but told Dawn television that he was not hurt.

Nawaz said Islamic militants were threatening all the political parties in the northwest ahead of the Feb. 18 parliamentary elections.

“They are against everyone,” he told Dawn News TV.

Charsadda has witnessed several attacks in recent years.

More than 50 people died there in December when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb amid hundreds of holiday worshippers at a mosque at the residence of former interior minister Aftab Khan Sherpao.

Elsewhere on Saturday, a roadside bomb wounded six paramilitary soldiers in southwestern Pakistan, police said.

The attack happened at Naushki, about 150 kilometres southeast of Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province. (AP)