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May 8, 2013

18 killed as bombs, firing target candidates in KP

Instep Today

N
NewsBytes
May 8, 2013

HANGU/TIMERGARA/SWABI: Eighteen people were killed and over 35 injured in separate election related incidents of bombing and firing in the northwestern Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province on Tuesday.
The attacks took place in Hangu, Timergara and Swabi. None claimed responsibility for the attacks.A remote-controlled bomb killed 12 people and injured 35 others when a candidate of the JUI-F was conducting his election campaign in Doaba Town of Hangu, a senior police official said.
District Police Officer (DPO) Sajjad Khan said militants had parked an explosive-laden motorcycle in the main bazaar and triggered the explosion when the JUI-F candidate Mufti Syed Jannan along with his supporters reached there to meet the shopkeepers and seek votes.
“The bomb exploded near the vehicle of the JUI-F candidate. Twelve persons have been killed and 35 others injured. The JUI-F candidate is safe, but two of his guards were wounded in the blast,” said the DPO. He said the victims included shoppers and two schoolchildren.
“The van of a private school was passing through the bazaar at the time of explosion. Two children were killed on the spot, while two others sustained severe burn injuries,” he added.The bodies were taken to hospitals in Hangu and Thall, while the injured were shifted to hospitals in Peshawar, Kohat and Hangu. Hospital sources said most of the injured were in critical condition.
The DPO said 5kg of explosives were used in the bombing. Eight shops were destroyed, he said, adding that the security forces cordoned off the scene and people were not allowed to go there to prevent harm in case of another explosion.
The dead were identified as Hikmatullah, Tayyab, Farhan, Shafiur Rehman, Khawaja Muhammad, Sakhi Ahmed, Ishaq and Haji Zahir. The identity of the two slain schoolchildren and two other persons could not be ascertained.
Talking to The News after the incident, Mufti Syed Jannan said he had a miraculous escape, as the blast took place a few steps away from him.“I arrived in Doaba at the head of a JUI-F caravan to carry out election campaign in the bazaar when the explosion occurred near our vehicle. Members of our party, Ulema and Muftis, children, shopkeepers and buyers were caught in the explosion and killed and injured,” he said.
Mufti Syed Jannan wondered how the attackers reached Doaba, as there was army and police on all the four sides of the town in Thall, Hangu city, Tora Warai and Karbogha Sharif. “The blast took place hardly 100 steps from the Doaba Police Station,” he added.
Arguing that he doesn’t know who was behind the blast and who wanted to kill him, Mufti Syed Jannan said he and his party hadn’t harmed anyone and had no enmity. “Rather, we have held peace Jirgas and tried to restore peace in our area and in the adjoining tribal areas,” he argued.
The previous day, around 25 persons were killed and 70 others sustained injuries in a blast in the adjacent Kurram Agency during the election meeting of the JUI-F candidates Munir Orakzai and Maulana Ainuddin Shakir in Sewak village.
Militant outfit Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the Monday’s blast and said Munir Orakzai was their target as he had been a part of the PPP-led coalition government as member of the National Assembly. Munir Orakzai, who recently joined the JUI-F, and Maulana Ainuddin Shakir, who had expressed doubts about the TTP’s hand in the explosion, remained unhurt in the attack.
A few days ago, JI candidate for NA-39 Orakzai Agency Raj Mohammad survived a roadside attack on his vehicle.
The administration in Hangu district and Kurram Agency slapped a ban on political activities after successive blasts in the two areas.
In the second remote-controlled bomb blast near the Babagam village in Maidan area of Lower Dir district, five persons, including PPP leader Muhammad Zahir Shah Khan and four other persons, were killed.
Former district Naib Nazim Muhammad Zahir Shah Khan, the brother of PPP candidate for PK-96 Muhammad Zamin Khan and cousin of ANP leader Senator Zahid Khan, along with party workers was returning to Maidan after attending a corner meeting in Ziamdarra when an IED targeted his vehicle near the Babagam village, killing Zahir Shah and four others on the spot.
Other slain persons were identified as Jamshed, Said Zaman, Musafar and Taj Muhammad. Talking to reporters, District Police Officer Ijaz Abid said 10kg of explosives were used in the attack.
The PPP workers and former provincial minister Mehmudzeb Khan reached the Timergara Hospital where the bodies of the slain men had been brought from the site of the blast. Muhammad Zahir Shah Khan alias Bhai Jan had filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate for the National Assembly seat, NA-34 Lower Dir, but he later withdrew from the race in favour of the party nominee.
In Swabi, one person was killed and three others were injured when unidentified persons opened fire at the cavalcade of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan (AJIP) chief Shahram Khan Tarakai near Baja village here on Tuesday.
Police sources said Shahram Khan and his supporters were on their way back after addressing a rally in Baja village when unidentified assailants opened fire.“The AJIP chief remained unhurt in the attack but one of his supporters was killed on the spot,” said a police official, adding three other supporters sustained bullet injuries.
Shahram, who also remained the district Nazim, is contesting election for the NA-13, Swabi-II and PK-32, Swabi-II. The slain person was identified as Junaid Khan of Panjman village. The injured included Wisal Khan, Sultan Hussain and Fazal Muhammad.
In Akhagram area of Upper Dir, Jamaat-e-Islami leader and candidate for PK-93 Upper Dir-III was injured in a remote-controlled bomb attack.Three other companions of the candidates also suffered injuries. Malik Bahram Khan, who was an MPA in 1993, was returning from the Karo Darra area after holding a corner meeting when he came under attack.
An official of the Wari Police Station said it was an IED blast. He said Bahram Khan and other injured were rushed to Lower Dir’s District Headquarters Hospital in Timergara. He did not know about the injured people’s condition and the nature of wounds.
Agencies add: Meanwhile, in Kohlu, Polling Station Sufaid Middle School was blown up with explosives by unknown miscreants, Levies sources said.The Sufaid Middle School, declared as the polling station for the upcoming elections, was completely destroyed in the incident.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Jutice (retd) Mir Hazar Khan Khoso and Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi strongly condemned the bomb blast that targeted the PPP public meeting in the Babbagam area of Lower Dir and blast in the JUI-F rally in Hangu.
The president, while expressing his heartfelt sympathies with the bereaved families, directed the authorities to provide the best possible medical assistance to the injured. He also directed the law enforcement authorities to enhance the security of candidates, public meetings and people in general to ensure a peaceful conduct of the general elections on May 11.