Blast at election rally kills 15 in Pakistan

Reuters , Monday 6 May 2013

Bomb blast in Peshawar at a campaign rally follows weeks of similar attacks by Pakistani Taliban

A blast at an election rally organised by a religious party in Pakistan killed 15 people on Monday, officials said.

The attack at a gathering of members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party wounded 40 people, said the officials.

Since April, the Pakistani Taliban have killed more than 70 people in attacks targeting three major political parties, preventing many of their most prominent candidates from openly campaigning.

But the militant group has targeted moderate parties in their bid to undermine the May 11 general election, not religious ones like the Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam.

One official said a suicide bomber blew himself at the gathering. There was no claim of responsibility.

The polls mark the first time that an election is being held to decide on a transition between civilian governments.

The military has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 66-year history, either through coups or from behind the scenes.

But the Taliban violence has marred the election, with some candidates afraid to campaign.

The attack in the Kurram region, an ethnic Pashtun area near the Afghan border, will raise questions about whether the Taliban have expanded their campaign beyond moderate parties.

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