KARACHI: At least ten people, including a child, were killed and around 25 others were wounded in a militants’ attack on a secular political party in Karachi, DawnNews reported.
The Pakistani Taliban militants targeted a corner meeting of Awami National Party (ANP) near Mominabad Police Station in Karachi’s SITE area. The meeting was being attended, among others, by a local leader of ANP, Bashir Jan.
Jan, however, had escaped the attack unhurt.
SSP Karachi West Asif Ijaz, while talking to Dawn.Com, has confirmed the number of dead and injured. He said the bomb was a planted device with at leat four kilograms of explosive material. Ball bearings and nuts and bolts, apparently used in the bomb, were also found from the site of the blast, he added.
The blast was heard several kilometres away and damaged nearby shops and houses, witnesses said.
Talking to a private news channel, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali condemned the cowardly act of the terrorists and vowed to not bow down to them.
“People know who is behind these barbaric acts….they want to keep us away from elections,” he said. However, the ANP chief said that his party will not boycott the May 11 polls.
Meanwhile, the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility of the attack.
Speaking to Dawn.com via telephone from an undisclosed location, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said they had carried out the attack on the ANP for their secular views.
“These secular parties want to bring the system of the infidel in Pakistan,” said the Taliban spokesman, speaking about the MQM, ANP and PPP.
Speaking to Dawn, Additional IG Karachi Iqbal Mehmood said political parties were required to inform police authorities 72 hours in advance of holding rallies or public meetings.
According to rules set down by the the Election Commission, parties should inform police of routes and other details ahead of holding public meetings to ensure their safety, Mehmood said.
Day of mourning
The ANP has announced to observe a day of mourning in the city. Transport, businesses and educational institutions however will remain open on Saturday, said the party’s chief of Sindh province, Shahi Syed.
Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital, has witnessed a recent surge in violence.
The Pakistani Taliban had also claimed responsibility for an attack on Thursday on the election office of the MQM in Karachi, the second attack on the party in the city in three days.
Earlier in the day, an ANP’s National Assembly candidate from Karachi’s Landhi area came under a cracker bomb attack in Karachi whereas a convoy of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidate Hashim Shahwani came under gunfire attack in Mach area of Balochistan’s Bolan district.
The spike in violence targeting political parties has raised concerns for law and order as the May 11 general elections draw closer.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also expressed its concerns at the continuing terrorist attacks on election candidates, activists and campaigns of certain political parties.
“If this targeted violence persists, it would render the elections meaningless and make the country hostage to fascist forces,” the rights watchdog said in a statement released Friday.
Zahir Shah Sherazi from Peshawar and Asif Mehmood from Karachi contributed to this report