ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

Haroon Bilour was approaching the rally organised in connection with his election campaign on Circular Road when the explosion took place

The attack on a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Peshawar also injured almost 50 others, city police chief Jamil Qazi said.

Haroon Bilour was the son of senior ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour who was killed when a Pakistani Taliban bomber blew himself up in a party meeting in Peshawar in 2012.

Local television channels broadcast live scenes of ambulances arriving at the site and rushing victims to the hospital. Bilour suffered serious injuries and was shifted to a hospital where he succumbed to the wounds, reports said.

The deceased ANP candidate, who was set to contest the July 25 elections from Peshawar's PK-78 constituency, will be buried in Wazir Bagh at 5pm today (Wednesday).

11 others were martyred and 35 injured in the suicide bomb attack targeting his rally in a congested neighbourhood of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital shortly before the midnight.

The ANP was the main target of Taliban attacks in the 2013 election.

Terming it the "peak of terrorism", ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the attack is aimed at derailing democratic system in the country and a conspiracy to delay upcoming general elections.

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Major General Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, said 371,388 troops - almost a third of the total armed forces - would be deployed to provide security for the upcoming vote.

He said the troops would provide security at 85,000 polling stations and carry out other elections-related duties. "Our loyalty is only with Pakistan".

Pakistan's Election Commission has asked the military to help hold a "free and fair election" in the face of security threats.

Worldwide and Pakistani rights groups have recently accused the army and its intelligence agency of intimidating media outlets in an attempt to stifle criticism of the military, accused by some of seeking to play a dominant role in the country's politics.

This was the first major attack on a campaign event for Pakistan's July 25 general election.

"Six people include Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Awami National Party leaders Asfandyar Wali and Ameer Haider Hoti, Qaumi Watan Party head Aftab Sherpao, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Akram Khan Durrani and Hafiz Saeed's son Talha Saeed".

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