Explosion at Pakistan election rally kills 25

65 others wounded by blast at gathering of Jamiat Ulema-e- Islam party

A supporter of the political and religious party Jamaat-e-Islami holds a party flag while listening to the speeches of leaders during an election campaign rally in Karachi yesterday. Elections will be held in Pakistan on Saturday.  Photograph: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro.

A supporter of the political and religious party Jamaat-e-Islami holds a party flag while listening to the speeches of leaders during an election campaign rally in Karachi yesterday. Elections will be held in Pakistan on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters/Akhtar Soomro.

Mon, May 6, 2013, 18:30

A blast at an election rally organised by a religious party in Pakistan killed 25 people today, officials said.

The attack at a gathering of members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam religious party wounded 65 others.

Pakistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The polls mark the first time that an election is being held to decide on a transition between civilian governments in Pakistan, a strategic U.S. ally. Taliban attacks have marred the election, with some candidates afraid to campaign.

Since April, the radical Islamist group has killed more than 90 people in attacks on three major political parties, preventing many of their most prominent candidates from openly campaigning.

But until now the Taliban had targeted secular parties in its bid to undermine the May 11 general election, which it regards as un-Islamic.

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 secular parties.

Hospital administrator Inayatullah Khan said 25 people were killed in the blast and the death toll could rise because some victims were critically injured.

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

Reuters