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Bomb Attacks Target Election Events In NW Pakistan

A victim of a bomb attack on an election rally in the northwestern town of Hangu, Pakistan on May 7 is wheeled toward medical assistance.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- Two bomb attacks targeting election campaign events in northwestern Pakistan have killed at least 12 people.

Four people were killed on May 7 when a roadside bomb targeted a vehicle carrying supporters of President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party in the Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

An attack earlier in the day in the southern Hangu district of the province targeted the rally of Islamist politician Mufti Syed Janan. Eight people died in that attack.

Local administrative official Abdul Hameed Khattak told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the attack struck at a rally in a market in Hangu.

"The blast happened at 11:45 a.m. [local time] when the campaign rally of Mufti Syed Janan a provincial assembly candidate for the Islamist Jamiat Ulema-e Islam party, was in a full swing," Khattak said. "A suicide bomber riding on a motorcycle exploded his vest at the rally. Mufti Janan escaped unharmed but there were several casualties. We cannot give an exact figure now as we are still searching for victims. The hospitals have declared an emergency."

It was the second attack in as many days to strike the election campaign of the Islamist party, which has been sympathetic toward the Taliban.

A bombing of the party's gathering in the nearby Kurram tribal region on May 6 killed at least 23 and injured scores more.

Local officials announced the higher casualty figure a day later, which now includes 67 injured.

The attack is considered the deadliest since the start of campaigning for May 11 parliamentary elections.

A purported spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The group says that Munir Orakzai, a former lawmaker who was running again for office again as a candidate from the Islamist party, was targeted because he had helped bring about the arrest of several high-profile Al-Qaeda leaders.

Jamiat Ulema-e Islam leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman is considered a key Islamist leader in Pakistan.

Many Pakistani and Afghan Taliban leaders have graduated from madrasahs run by Sunni clerics associated with his party.

Pakistan's parliamentary election is set for May 11. More than 100 people have been killed in election-related violence since April.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa