News / Asia

Bomb at Pakistan Islamist Party Rally Kills 20

Policemen stand guard near supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party during an election campaign rally in Islamabad, May 5, 2013.
Policemen stand guard near supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party during an election campaign rally in Islamabad, May 5, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
— A powerful bomb has ripped through an election rally in Pakistan, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens more. Taliban extremists have claimed responsibility.  Militants have stepped up attacks on election-related events as the country prepares to hold national polls on May 11.

Local officials told reporters the deadly suicide attack occurred in the northwestern Kurram tribal district and it targeted a campaign rally of a religious party known as Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).

The bomb reportedly went off near the stage shortly after candidates finished their speeches and were leaving the gathering. One of the candidates was identified as Munir Orakzai, a former member of the national parliament. His party spokesman, Jan Achakzai, said the senior politician survived the blast.

“He is fine. He is slightly injured but thanks to God he is safe. I strongly condemn this incident,” Achakzai said.

Taliban claim responsibility

A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ahsanullah Ahsan, claimed responsibility while speaking to VOA from an undisclosed location. He said Orakzai was the target of the attack because of his past association with the country’s secular political parties.

This is not the first time leaders linked to the JUI-F party have come under attack in Pakistan. Militants are blamed for at least two failed assassination attempts against the party chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, because of his short-lived political alliance with the previous Pakistani government that was a coalition of mostly secular parties. Most election-related attacks have targeted these political parties, and the violence has killed more than 90 people since campaigning started in April for Saturday’s national vote.

Independent observers like Mudassir Rizvi of the Free and Fair Election Network, a non-governmental watchdog, say the rising attacks on candidates and political activists are threatening the integrity of the polls.

“One of the major impacts that we are foreseeing is going to be the low turnout, especially if attacks of such type take place in the morning of the election day that will adversely affect expectations of a higher turnout this time,” said Rizvi.

The upcoming election will be the first time Pakistan will see a transfer of power between democratically elected governments through the ballot box. The military has ruled the country through coups or through its supporters for half of Pakistan’s existence, preventing democracy from taking roots.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid