A suicide blast at an election rally Tuesday night in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 14 people, including a provincial assembly candidate, and wounded 45 others.
The bomb went off in central Peshawar, capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhaw province, just when slain Haroon Bilour was heading toward the rostrum to address the rally for supporters of his secular Awami National Party or ANP, police and witnesses said.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the bombing, which comes two weeks before Pakistan is due to hold national and provincial assembly elections.
The Pakistani province has been the scene of suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks for years, mostly claimed by the outlawed Pakistani Taliban. But officials say sustained military operations have reduced the violence significantly in the past few years.
Haroon Bilour was the son of a senior ANP leader, Bashir Bilour, who also was assassinated by a suicide bomber while attending an election-related party gathering in the city in 2013. The Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for plotting that bombing.
Tuesday’s attack came hours after the Pakistan army announced it will deploy more than 371,000 security forces to polling stations to ensure free, fair and transparent national elections.
A Pakistani army spokesman told reporters the deployment is being undertaken to protect the voting process at the request of the independent Election Commission of Pakistan.