HANGU/LOWER DIR - At least 18 people were killed and 53 injured in two bomb attacks on the political rallies of JUI-F in Hangu and PPP in Lower Dir on Tuesday.

In the first incident, a bomb exploded at the rally of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) when it was passing through the main market in Doaba area of Hangu. The rally was headed by JUI-F candidate from PK-43 constituency, Mufti Syed Janan, who survived the attack with minor brushes.

Hafiz Hamim, Hikmatullah Khan, Rehman and nine others were killed. Muhammad Irshad, Nawaz, Noor Muhammad, Khalid Khan, Syed Rehman, Bilal Khan, Maulana Muzamil and Maulana Hafiz Chjitrali were among the 35 injured in the attack.

Hospital sources said 11 children were among the injured who were rushed to hospital on self- help basis. Soon after the blast curfew was imposed in the area.

Hangu DPO Muhammad Sajjad said the bomb had been planted on a motorcycle near the venue of the rally. He did not specify the nature of the detonator used in the attack. Rescue and emergency team rushed to the site of the attack and the victims were shifted to nearby hospitals.

It is believed JUI-F candidate Mufti Syed Janan escaped unharmed. The attack occurred as Janan’s convoy passed through a market in the town of Doaba in Hangu district, officials said.

In another incident, a blast targeting a rally of PPP in Lower Dir’s Baba Gam village killed six persons and injured several others on Tuesday. The blast caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) near the vehicle of Zahir Khan, the brother of PPP candidate from PK-96 constituency of Lower Dir-111, Muhammad Zamin Khan. Zahir Khan succumbed to his wounds. Security forces cordoned off the area as investigations into the incident began soon after the blast.

Sources said the blast took place as the brother of a provincial assembly candidate of PPP went for a door-to-door campaign to Dir. “It was a remote-controlled bomb which exploded when the brother of PPP candidate Zamin Khan was campaigning at Baba Gam.

It is worth mentioning that PPP, Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) have been under attack by the Taliban ahead of the general elections on May 11.

A joint rally for two other candidates from the same faction of the JUI-F was bombed in the tribal district of Kurram on Monday, killing 26 people in the deadliest single attack on the campaign so far.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, saying the target had been Munir Orakzai - a lawmaker in the national assembly who was in 2008 elected as an independent but was allied to the outgoing government.