ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a suicide attack on an election campaign meeting that killed 20 people and wounded 66.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani said in a statement that the group had sent the suicide bomber to kill Haroon Bilour, a leader of the regional secular formation Awami National Party, who died in the attack on late Tuesday night in Peshawar, capital of the northeastern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“ANP is anti-Islam. When this secular party was in power it martyred so many Muslims and imprisoned so many others. We have announced a war against them,” Khurasani said.
The Taliban spokesperson urged people to stay away from ANP members, their offices and meetings.
This was the first attack, with fatalities, during ongoing campaigning for general elections on July 25, in which some 105 million people are eligible to vote.
Bilour’s father was also killed in a suicide attack in 2012, while other ANP members have been frequent targets of the Taliban over the past few years.
The ANP is a secular and leftist party that represents the Pashtuns, who form a large part of the population in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it is part of the opposition after being in power from 2008 to 2013.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, recently there has been a decline in violence in Pakistan, with 1,260 terror-related deaths reported in 2017, the lowest figure in a decade.