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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
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.
AppleAndroid