New York, April 16, 2013–At least one journalist was killed and two were injured in a suicide bomb attack during a political rally today in Pakistan’s northwestern provincial capital of Peshawar, according to news reports.
Aslam Durrani, news editor of the Daily Pakistan, was killed, according to a staff member at the Lahore offices of the paper. News accounts reported that more than 20 others were killed in the attack, which occurred in Yakatoot, a densely packed neighborhood in Peshawar during a political rally for the Awami National Party, according to Agence France-Presse.
The reports said that Ehtesham Khan, a correspondent for Express TV, and Azhar Ali Shah, a reporter for Daily Pakistan, had been injured in the blast. Both have sought treatment for unspecified wounds at a local hospital, reports said.
The explosion occurred just after the arrival of senior ANP leaders at the scene, The Associated Press reported. Senior police official Shafqat Malik told AFP that the attack was a suicide bombing.
The militant group Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to local reports. The group’s spokesman, Ihsanullah Ihsan, told local media that the target of the attack was Haroon Bilour, a lawyer who is running for the seat that his father, Bashir Bilour, won five times in Peshawar, and who was assassinated last year by the Taliban, the reports said.
“Journalists in Pakistan operate in a terrain filled with danger,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “With elections drawing closer, these risks are heightened. We call on authorities to ensure the perpetrators of this terrible attack are brought to justice, and we urge journalists in the field and the news organizations behind them to exercise great caution.”
Political violence has increased in Pakistan in the run-up to May 11 elections. The date will mark the first time a civilian government has handed over power after completing a full term in office.
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