PESHAWAR: The death toll in the Peshawar suicide attack, which claimed the life of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Barrister Haroon Bilour, has increased to 20, media reported.
Presently, 62 people injured in the suicide attack are seeking treatment at Lady Reading Hospital, authorities confirmed.
The explosion occurred late Tuesday night in the Yakatoot neighbourhood moments after Bilour arrived to address a corner meeting.
The deceased ANP leader, 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).
The son of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a senior ANP figure who, himself, was martyred in a suicide attack in 2012 after a party meeting, Haroon was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition but succumbed to his wounds shortly after.
He was 47 years old.
ECP postpones polls in PK-78
Following the incident, the Election Commission of Pakistan postponed the polls in PK-78 (Peshawar-XIII) constituency.
The polls have been postponed due to the death of the PK-78 candidate, the electoral body said, adding that the new schedule for the said constituency will be announced later.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council has also announced a three-day mouring in light of the attack, with lawyers beginning the boycott of court proceedings today.
Two bodies yet to be identified
A list of all those killed in the explosion has also been released, however, two bodies have yet to be identified.
Aside from Haroon Bilour, others killed in the explosion have been identified as Asif Khan, 28, Muhammad Shoaib, 19, Muhammad Naeem, Yaseen, Haji Muhammad Gul, 45, Najeeb ullah, 20, Abid ullah, 30, Huzaifa, 12, Arif Hussain, 25, Akhtar Gul, 18, Imran, 30, Rizwan, Zameer Khan, Israr, Sameen, Sadiq, Khan Muhammad, 30.
‘Weakness of security institutions’
Speaking about the incident earlier, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retired) Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan condemned the terrorist attack and termed it a “weakness of security institutions”.
The attack was a conspiracy against the transparent elections, the CEC said, noting that the provincial governments were ordered to provide fool-proof security to all candidates.
On the other hand, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the government had failed to provide security to the party.
“Perhaps someone wishes to sabotage the elections … wants to push ANP out of the electoral race,” he said.
However, the “ANP will fully participate in the elections”, he added.
Moreover, the United States embassy also condemned the attack in a social media post.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the attack in Peshawar against civilians campaigning for this month’s elections. We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and hope for the speedy recovery of those who were wounded,” the embassy said in a statement.
ANP — on the target list
The ANP was the main target of Taliban attacks around the 2013 election, with scores of workers and candidates killed in terrorist attacks across the country.
Last month, a US drone strike killed the Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who had claimed responsibility for most of the attacks against the ANP in the 2013 election on the grounds that it had supported operations against the militants.
The Pakistan Army announced on Tuesday it would deploy over 371,000 troops to ensure peaceful and fair and free elections on July 25.