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Bomb hits Pakistan political rally

PARACHINAR, Pakistan — A bomb blast tore through a political rally held by an Islamist party in northwest Pakistan Monday, in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban that killed 16 people and underscored an increase in violence ahead of the May 11 vote.

The explosion, at a rally held in the village of Sewak in the northwest Kurram tribal area, was the latest attack on candidates, political offices, and election-related events as the vote approaches. Much of the violence is believed to have been carried out by the Taliban against three liberal and secular parties. But Monday’s blast targeted a gathering of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, which generally has a more favorable relationship with the militant group.

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The bomb, which was apparently planted near the main stage of the rally, also wounded 44, said Umar Khan, a doctor at the nearby Sada hospital.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said the attack was aimed at candidate Munir Khan Orakzai because he previously supported operations against militants in the tribal areas.

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