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Suicide Bombing in Pakistan Leaves At Least 25 Dead

Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide bomb attack at an election rally in northwestern Pakistan has killed at least 25 people. From Islamabad, Ayaz Gul reports.

Witnesses say that activists of a regional political group, the Awami National Party, were listening to speeches by their leaders in the town of Charsadda when the bomb went off. The explosion injured scores of people and doctors say the death toll could rise.

Afrasiab Khattak, provincial president of the secular political party and a prominent human rights activist, was at the rally, but told reporters he was not hurt.

"There was an explosion in my meeting," he recalled. "There was a big bang and then I saw some people getting hit. I am fine."

Saturday's bombing was one of several major attacks in Charsadda in recent months. Former federal Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpo survived two suicide attacks in the city last year that killed scores of people.

Pakistani authorities have blamed Islamic militants for the violence targeting security forces and politicians. The militants are also blamed for assassinating former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Extremist violence has undermined election-related activities in Pakistan and the latest attack is likely to increase security concerns ahead of February 18 parliamentary elections.