Candidate from Sharif’s party escapes gun attack in Pakistan

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Supporters of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of Pakistan Peoples Party, listen to their leader during an election rally in a suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, July 17. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)
Supporters of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leader of Pakistan Peoples Party, listen to their leader during an election rally in a suburb of Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, July 17. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Islamabad (AP) — A candidate running for a seat in Pakistan’s parliament from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s political party escaped an assassination attempt in eastern Punjab province, police said Tuesday.

Local police official Mohammad Afzal said that Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, who served as a minister in Sharif’s former government, came under attack late Monday in Attock district while returning from a rally. He said Ahmed was safe.

The incident is the latest election-related violence in Pakistan after Friday’s carnage that saw an election candidate and 152 others killed in all, in bombings in the country’s southwest and northwest.

Ahmed is from Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League party. Sharif was arrested on Friday upon returning from London to face a 10-year prison sentence for corruption.

Also Tuesday, the counter-terrorism police in Punjab province arrested four suspected militants from the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and the Lashker-e-Jhangvi group near the central city of Multan.

Mustafa Kamal, a spokesman for counter-terrorism police, said explosives and weapons were found in the suspects’ possession. The four had planned to carry out attacks on political rallies and security forces, he said.

Meanwhile, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari — the son of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Zardari — held a string of rallies Tuesday, including in Islamabad suburbs, the nearby town of Gujar Khan and elsewhere.

The young Zardari is trying to revive support for his Pakistan People’s Party which once had a strong following in Punjab, the country’s largest province.