On Saturday, 25 people were killed and 35 were injured in a suicide attack targeting an Awami National Party election rally in Charsadda. The ANP is a secular political party that competes against Islamist parties for support among the NWFP’s ethnic Pashtun community. One man, who attended the funeral of two of Saturday’s victims, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the ANP has “promoted peace” in the turbulent province, adding, “We do not understand why such a big attack happened.” According to the AFP, Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz linked the attack to the wave of bombings perpetrated by Al Qaeda-linked militants, “that have claimed more than 70 lives this year.”
Pakistan’s Daily Times reported that the ANP announced a three-day mourning period for the victims. Dawn cited Afrasiab Khattak, the party’s provincial chief, who asserted the explosion was “a conspiracy to delay the polls.” Reuters, in its article today, also quoted ANP spokesman Zahid Khan, who reiterated Khattak’s statements, noting, “This attack is carried out by the forces who want to subvert elections.” The AFP added, “The bombing has further raised fears for the security of general elections on February 18…” Image from the AP.