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Pakistani Taliban target secular party, kill 1

Apr. 14, 2013 - 09:46AM   |  
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MINGORA, Pakistan — Pakistani Taliban attacked two leaders of an anti-militant political party on Sunday in northwest Pakistan, killing one and wounding another in the latest attack targeting members of secular-leaning parties during their campaigns for next month’s parliamentary election.

In the first incident, Mukarram Shah was killed in an explosion as he entered his car in the village of Banjot, said Abdullah Khan, police chief of the nearby city of Mingora. The explosives appeared to have been set off by remote control, he added.

In the other attack, a blast hit the convoy of provincial assembly candidate Masoom Shah as he was returning from a campaign meeting, police officer Zahir Khan said. He said Shah and three of his aides suffered wounds from the roadside bomb.

Both Shahs are from the secular Awami National Party, which supported military operations against militants in the region.

The ANP is among three secular-leaning political parties that the Pakistani Taliban have threatened to attack during campaigns for the May 11 parliamentary elections. The other two parties are the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

The Taliban have warned people in a video message to stay away from rallies held by the three political parties they consider their enemies.

The three dominated Pakistan’s last government, which was dissolved in preparation for the elections. The ANP also headed the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the main province of the northwest, a stronghold of the Taliban.

The latest two assaults follow three similar attacks since the Taliban issued their threat several weeks ago. Two ANP candidates have survived bomb attacks in the northwest, and a Taliban shooter killed an MQM candidate in the southern city of Hyderabad.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for both the bomb attacks. “The three parties are on our hit list,” he told The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Right-leaning and religious parties not being targeted by the Taliban have been holding their election campaign rallies without fear.

Also on Sunday, gunmen attacked a NATO supply convoy in the Khyber tribal region, killing a truck driver and wounding another, said a local government administrator Iqbal Khan. The Khyber Pass is one of the two main routes in Pakistan for NATO supplies headed to neighboring Afghanistan.

———

AP writers Rasool Dawar and Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan contributed.

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