At least 14 people have been killed and 45 more injured after a powerful blast rocked a public gathering in the violence - wracked northwestern Pakistan.
The powerful explosion targeted a public gathering of the pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Party in tribal Kurram Agency. The bomb was reportedly planted inside the building where a candidate running for parliament was speaking to supporters. Nearly a dozen of the wounded are reportedly in critical condition. It is the first time that a pro-Taliban party has been targeted in the troubled region. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants had previously announced that they would target the election rallies of Awami National Party, Pakistan People’s Party, and Muttahida Quami Movement. Pakistan will hold its National Assembly elections on May 11. The National Assembly has a total of 342 members, of which 272 are elected by the popular vote. The last National Assembly elections were held in February 2008. Pakistan will also hold elections for 577 seats of the Provincial Assemblies on the same day. Despite the Pakistani government's operations against TTP militants and associated groups, they have still been able to spread their influence in various regions of the country and kill thousands of people. Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001 when Pakistan entered an alliance with the US on the so-called war against terrorism. Since late 2009, there has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan.