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Central & South Asia

Pre-election violence continues in Pakistan

Party leaders claim they are undeterred by wave of attacks that has killed at least 56 people ahead of May 11 vote.

Last Modified: 29 Apr 2013 16:21
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At least eight people, including the son of an influential Afghan cleric, have been killed and 45 others wounded after a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a bus in Peshawar, police have said.

Qari Hilal, the son of cleric Qazi Amin Waqad, died in Monday's suicide bombing that appeared to have targeted Sahibzada Anees, a senior official in the city administration.

He had passed by shortly before the blast in the Jehangir Abad neighbourhood.

Qazi Amin Waqad is a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which is trying to draw the Afghan Taliban into peace talks.

Hilal was organising a conference of Afghan and Pakistani religious scholars to oppose militancy, Afghan consulate officials quoted by the Reuters news agency said.

The attack is the latest in a wave of violence that has rocked Pakistan ahead of national elections on May 11.

"At least eight people were killed and 45 others were wounded in the suicide bombing," Mohammad Faisal, a police official, told the AFP news agency.

"The commissioner, who passed just a minute before from the road, was the target of the bombing, but he escaped unhurt as the bomber missed the target and struck his motorcycle into a passenger bus."

Body parts of the suicide bomber were found at the blast site, he added.

String of attacks

Bomb disposal officials said the explosives weighed up to six kilogrammes. 

At least 56 people have killed in attacks targeting politicians and political parties since April 11, according to a tally by the AFP news agency.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Monday's attack, but the Pakistani Taliban had previously claimed several attacks over the weekend.

The TTP is opposed to secular parties taking part in the forthcoming elections, our correspondent said.

"The idea is that the Pakistan Taliban do not want these elections to go off smoothly. They say that a lot of these parties are secular. They're not in Pakistan's interests. They say that Pakistan … should be a more Muslim country," he said.

The group has been waging a bloody campaign against the government for years and has stepped up attacks ahead of the vote.

On Sunday, 11 people were killed in bomb attacks on a political rally and two campaign offices in the northwest.

Taliban 'recruiting'

Key leaders of Pakistan political parties have said they will continue to contest Pakistan's upcoming general election despite the series of attacks.

Speaking at a joint press conference in Karachi on Monday, leaders from the Pakistan People's Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party (ANP) said bomb attacks would not keep them from engaging in the May 11 polls.

Bashir Jan, secretary general of the ANP, referred to the 2012 assassination of Bashir Bilour, former party leader, saying his party had made sacrifices in the past.

Jan's statement came after three children were wounded in an explosion near the election office of Mohammad Ahmed Khan, the ANP candidate from Charsadda, a district of Pakhtunkhwa province.

Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from Islamabad, said the ANP was likely targeted for its stance on the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The ANP, said our correspondent, has taken a strong stance against the Pakistani Taliban, an act which is "unusual" for political parties in the South Asian nation.

Additionally, our correspondent said the ANP's base lies in areas that are "fertile recruiting grounds for the TTP".

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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