Islamabad: At least 12 people were killed in a bombing in northwest Pakistan that targetted Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, while six people died on Thursday evening when their car hit a remote-controlled bomb planted by the roadside in the country`s southwest, police said.
Rehman was exposed last week by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks for his offer to the US to mediate with the Taliban. It was the second attack on him in two days.
At least 30 people were injured in the first bombing that took place in Charsadda district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when Rehman was passing through a busy street in a motor convoy. Charsadda is located some 30 km northeast of Peshawar, the provincial capital.
The second explosion took place in Turbet district in the southwest province of Balochistan at about 5.30 p.m. when a car hit a remote-controlled bomb planted by the roadside, Xinhua reported citing Urdu TV channel Samaa.
Rehman was unhurt but some of his bodyguards were injured, said Nisar Ali Marwat, the district police chief.
"Until now 12 people are confirmed dead while 30 more are injured," a news agency quoted Marwat as saying.
"Eight to nine kilograms of explosives were used in the vest which was packed with ball-bearings," he said.
Eyewitnesses said a man blew himself up while the convoy carrying Rehman passed by. Rehman`s car was damaged, but he himself remained unhurt in the attack.
"I cannot express suspicion on anyone for now. It will lead to complications. Our investigative agencies should investigate these incidents and inform the public of the actual situation," Rehman was quoted as saying by a TV channel.
It was the second attempt on Rehman`s life.
On Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives when Rehman was about to reach a political rally in Swabi district. Ten people were killed and 19 were injured in that attack.
The two attacks in quick succession came after a leading Indian newspaper March 26 accessed cables leaked by WikiLeaks that reveal Rehman had sent a message to the US embassy in New Delhi offering to mediate with the Taliban.
The Hindu newspaper reported that Muslim leaders in New Delhi stayed away from Fazlur Rehman when he visited the city in May 2006. He again visited the following year.
He then offered his services as a mediator between the US and the Taliban.
Rehman also sought the assistance of the Americans to help him play his "rightful" role in the Pakistan government.
On May 3, 2007, assistant political counsellor Atul Keshap reported (cable 106645: secret) his meeting with Jamiat-e-ulema Hind (JuH) leader Mahmood Madani.
Madani told the US official that Rehman had a "pressing issue he wanted to discuss with US officials, but he was only interested in holding these talks outside of Pakistan", according to a leading Indian newspaper.
He went on to say that Rehman "could not speak freely in Pakistan, that he would say one thing in Pakistan and something else in India if asked".
"Madani explained that Rehman was interested in acting as a go-between for the United States, to negotiate with the Taliban in order to bring them into the mainstream and peacefully into politics in Afghanistan. Madani said many of the Taliban were just caught up in the conflict and did not have a way out of it. Which Taliban members were willing to be involved and under what circumstances would have to be worked out in the negotiations," the cable said.