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Bombing at political rally kills 9 in Pakistan

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published December 22, 2012 at 9:37 a.m. Updated December 22, 2012 at 10:50 a.m.

— A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed nine people including a provincial government official at a political rally held Saturday by a party that has opposed the Taliban, officials said.

The rally in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was held by the Awami National Party, whose members have been repeatedly targeted by the Taliban.

Among the dead was Bashir Bilour, the second most senior member of the provincial Cabinet, said Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the politician's brother and federal railways minister.

Over 20 others were wounded by the blast, said local police officer Sabir Khan.

Bilour was leaving the rally after delivering the keynote speech when the attack occurred, said Nazir Khan, a local Awami National Party leader.

"There was smoke and dust all around, and dead and wounded people were lying on the ground," he said.

The suicide bomber was on foot, said another police officer, Imtiaz Khan.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa information minister and a member of the Awami National Party, said both he and Bilour had repeatedly received threats from militants. He condemned the attack and said the government needed to intensify its battle against the Taliban.

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