PESHAWAR: Senior Awami National Party (ANP) leader Barrister Haroon Bilour and 13 other persons lost their lives while at least 45 others were wounded when a suicide bomber targeted an election rally of the party in Peshawar’s central Yakatoot area late Tuesday night.
The death toll was confirmed by a spokesman for the Lady Reading Hospital — the city’s leading medical facility. Peshawar’s Senior Superintendent of Police Operations, Javed Iqbal, confirmed to The News that the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber. “Haroon Bilour along with others was martyred in the blast,” he said and added that the head and other body parts of the bomber had been recovered.
Condemning the terrorist attack, Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Mohammad Raza termed it a “weakness of security institutions”.He said that the attack was a conspiracy against transparent elections, noting that the provincial governments were ordered to provide fool-proofsecurity to all candidates.
In December 2012, Haroon Bilour’s father, Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a former senior minister and ANP leader, was also martyred in a suicide attack in Qissa Khwani. Haroon was contesting from the very constituency on which his father ran for the party.
Eyewitnesses said an election rally was arranged by the party in Yakatoot with Haroon Bilour being the keynote speaker on Tuesday night. A bomb went off in the rally at around 11 pm, injuring a large number of participants, including Bilour. At least, 12 victims could not survive the injuries.
Eyewitnesses said Harøon was warmly received by his supporters with fireworks on his arrival at the venue. As if waiting for his arrival, the suicide bomber blew himself soon after. It is said he was not very far from Bilour when the bomb was set off.
Earlier reports suggested that Haroon Bilour was accompanied by his young son, Danial. But he spoke to the media saying that his father stopped him from going to the venue. He said he was going to join him later but was informed of the blast when he was on his way.
The news of the blast has sent shockwaves across the country with many people expressing sadness and fear on social media immediately after the news of the incident was aired on news networks. Bilour was the ANP candidate for the provincial assembly from Peshawar inner city. This is the first major attack on any election rally in 2018.
Hundreds of ANP workers, supporters and residents of Peshawar reached the Lady Reading Hospital soon after hearing about the incident. Many of them were devastated. The news was tragic for everyone as the family has suffered a lot in recent years. Before Haroon, his father Bashir Bilour was martyred in a suicide attack while his brother Usman also died quite young. A cousin of Haroon and the lone son of Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, Shabbir Bilour, had lost his life in election related violence in 1990s.
ANP had to suffer major losses in the 2013 general elections when its leaders were restricted to their homes due to daily attacks. Hundreds of ANP workers , including leaders, have been killed in suicide attacks and blasts in the violence persisting for years.
The 12 victims are:
1/- Zameer Khan, son of Madad Khan, resident of Shaheed Abad, Phando, Age 18 years.
2/- Arif Hussain, son of Qamabar Ali, resident of Kocha Risaldar, age 25.
3/- Haji Muhammada Gul, son of Sheikh Jan, resident of Yakatoot Teadi, age 45.
4/- Mujahid Ullah, son of Tila Muhammad, resident of Yakatoot, age 30.
5/- Imran Ullah, son of Usman Khan, resident of Shadabad Colony Yakatoot, age 30.
6/- Namloom, age 20.
7/- Najeeb, son of Rehmat Ullah, resident of Yakatoot, age 20.
8/- Akhtar Gul, son of Habib, resident of Yakatoot, age 20.
9/- Muhammad Shoaib, son of Shafi Ullah, resident of Muqrab Khan, Yakatoot, age 19.
10/- Asif, son of Tawas, r/o Yakatoot Neahar Ghara, age 28.
11/- Huzaiafa, son of Naveed, r/o Chan Agaha, age 12.
12/- Haroon Bilour, son of Bashir Bilour, Peshawar Cantt, age 45.
After the killing of Awami National Party ( ANP) candidate in a suicide attack, the ANP workers became violent and reportedly tortured the doctors and other health workers at the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital.
According to spokesperson of LRH, Zulfiqar Ali Babakhel, 14 people were killed and more than 60 others were injured in a suicide attack on the ANP political rally in Peshawar.After the ANP workers came to know about the blast, they arrived in the LRH, became violent and started storming the hospital and allegedly tortured the doctors and other staff members when they were told that Haroon Bilour had died in the blast.
Dr Khalid Masud, Hospital Director of LRH, told The News that hundreds of ANP workers thronged the hospital and started ransacking of the hospital’s emergency department. He said the police were there but they were helpless before the violent activists of the party.
Dr Khalid Masud said they had immediately called the doctors and other staff to the hospital when they were informed about the blast. However, he said most of the doctors and other staff members could not reach the casualty department due to violence in the hospital.
A senior ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain later arrived in the LRH and consoled the party workers.Talking to the media, Mian Iftikhar said that those trying to keep the ANP out of polls or sabotage elections would be frustrated.