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Explosion kills at least 25 people at Islamist party election rally in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A suicide bombing at an Islamist party's election rally killed at least 25 people and injured 65 others Monday in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region, local officials said.

Ulfat Hussai, an administrative official, said the leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party, a candidate for the National Assembly from the region, was among the injured.

Another government official said a suicide bomber blew himself up as JUI-F leader Munir Hussain Orakzai was about to leave the gathering in the village of Sewak after his speech to local tribesmen.

Dr. Inayatullah Khan, administrator of the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Sadda, said 20 bodies and 65 injured had been brought to his hospital while the bodies of five others had been taken directly to their homes by relatives.

Khan said the death toll could rise as half a dozen of the injured were still in critical condition.

Officials at the scene said many of the dead appeared to have succumbed to blood loss. The village is in a remote mountainous area, making it impossible to quickly get victims to hospitals.

Dr. Abdul Qadir, younger brother of Orakzai, said by telephone that he, his brother, two bodyguards and six close relatives were injured in the blast.

"They have been taken to the hospital and their condition is out of danger," Qadir said from Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram tribal region, which is near the Afghan border.

He said the injured were being taken to hospitals in Parachinar and Sadda, the second-largest town of the volatile region.

The Pakistani prosecutor investigating the assassination of the country's former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, has been shot and killed.  Chaudry Zulfikar Ali had also been involved in the investigation into the Mumbai massacre in 2008. His killing comes at a tense time as Pakistan prepares for national elections next week. An anti-Taliban candidate in Karachi was also murdered today. Sarah Smith has this report.

Monday’s incident marked the first time a political gathering of a religious party such as JUI-F, considered pro-Taliban, had been targeted in the tribal areas.

Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called NBC News and claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.

Ishan said Orakzai was their target, claiming that in the past five years, he had been involved with three major secular parties that the Taliban considers pro-American.

The Taliban launched has launched an offensive that has killed several leaders and activists belonging to the three parties: the Pakistan People's Party, Mutahidda Qaumi Movement and Awami National Party. 


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