Pak Politician Killed In Bomb Attack

Local leader of an anti-Taliban political party has been killed in a roadside bomb attack by suspected Islamist militants in Pakistan's north-western Swat valley, media reports citing local officials said late on Sunday.

According to officials, Mukarram Shah, local leader of the secular Awami National Party (ANP), was killed when his pick-up truck was struck by a roadside bomb near Mingora town. The deceased was alone when the explosion struck.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. But the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, had warned earlier that it would target leaders and rallies of the ANP, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) ahead of the forthcoming general elections due to their secular views. The three parties had dominated Pakistan's last government.

Swat valley, located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tribal province near the Afghan border, continues to be a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban as well as allied al-Qaeda-linked militant groups.

Notably, Pakistani Taliban and its allies have carried out several such attacks on both civilian as well as security targets in the country's restive north-western tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Islamist militants recently stepped up their campaign of violence ahead of national elections expected to be held on May 11. President Asif Ali Zardari had announced the poll schedule last month after the National Assembly completed its five-year tenure for the first time in its political history.

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