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Pakistan election rally blast toll rises to 25

Peshawar, May 7 (): The death toll of a blast at the election meeting organised by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) candidates in the central Kurram Agency on Monday has risen to 24, said an official on Tuesday.

The explosion occurred when a planted device detonated inside the madarsa where the rally was taking place, political agent Riaz Masood said.

The blast targeted the meet organised at Doaba in Hangu district by JUI leader Mufti Syed Janan, who is contesting polls to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly. Janan escaped unhurt.

The political agent at first stated that 15 people were killed and 36 others injured in the blast and that the JUI-F candidates remained unhurt. However, later in the evening it became known that 25 people were killed and around 70 others injured in the blast.

A hospital administrator, Inayatullah Khan, said so far 25 people had been killed in the blast and the death toll could rise because some victims were critically injured. He said around 65 injured were still under treatment at the hospital in Sadda and some were in serious condition.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso strongly condemned the attack saying that such acts cannot shake the resolve of the nation against terrorism. JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also condemned the killing of innocent people.

Pakistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing. The repeated Taliban attacks have marred the election, with some candidates afraid to campaign.

The Taliban have carried out multiple attacks in the approach to national elections scheduled for May 11. But most of the attacks have targeted secular parties that have opposed the militants and backed the army’s attempt to clear them from their sanctuaries in the northwest.

Since April, the group has killed more than 90 people in attacks on three major political parties, preventing many of their most prominent candidates from openly campaigning.