ANP leader Haroon Bilour among 12 killed in Peshawar blast, police say

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"According to our initial investigation, it was a suicide attack and Haroon Bilour... was the target", police official Shafqat Malik told AFP, referring to one of the ANP's candidates for the elections. Rescue staff reached the spot and shifted the bodies and wounded people to Lady Reading Hospital.

11 others were martyred and 35 injured in the suicide bomb attack targeting his rally in a congested neighbourhood of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa capital shortly before the midnight.

Police said the bomber struck when Bilour was about to address some 200 supporters.

On the other hand, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the government had failed to provide security to the party. "Moreover, there are threats to senior leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz", Nacta director Obaid Farooq said while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Interior. Some people were seen crying.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. But many militants have escaped to neighbouring Afghanistan, from where Islamabad alleges they launch attacks inside Pakistan.

Terrorists have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Peshawar.

The blast left more than 25 people injured, in the first major incident of violence ahead of general elections in Pakistan.

"I lost consciousness after the blast". He called Haroon the "Martyred son of a Martyred father".

Major General Asif Ghafoor, an army spokesman, said 371,388 troops - almost a third of the total armed forces - would be deployed to provide security for the upcoming vote.

Condemning the attack, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan sought security for the political parties and their candidates during the election campaigns.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza strongly condemned the attack, reports said.

But ANP leaders have vowed to continue their campaign this year despite the bombing in Peshawar.

Pakistani terror organisations have claimed responsibility for attacks on several prominent political figures, including the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007.