Pak provincial minister survives assassination bid

Povincial cabinet minister, whose son was gunned down by Taliban militants on Saturday, survived an assassination bid on Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near his residence in northwest Pakistan killing seven persons and injuring 25 others.

Last Updated: Jul 26, 2010, 17:53 PM IST

Peshawar: Povincial cabinet minister,
whose son was gunned down by Taliban militants on Saturday,
survived an assassination bid on Monday when a suicide bomber blew
himself up near his residence in northwest Pakistan killing
seven persons and injuring 25 others.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar
Hussain, a vocal critic of the Pakistani Taliban, escaped
unhurt as the bomber, a youth clad in black, detonated his
explosive vest when he was stopped by police at a check post a
short distance from his residence at 1.45 pm (local time).

Hussain was receiving condolences from visitors at his
house on Pabbi town at the time of the attack. His only son
Mian Rashid Hussain was gunned down by suspected Taliban
militants on Saturday while he was on a walk in his town.

Seven persons, including a relative of the minister,
were killed, said Bashir Bilour, a leader of the Awami
National Party and senior minister in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
government.

The bomber struck just after Federal Interior Minister
Rehman Malik, Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani and
senior Pakistan People`s Party leader Raza Rabbani had left
the Minister`s residence where he had come to offer
condolence.

"The bomber wanted to target Mian Iftikhar Hussain`s
home," Bilour said. Four of the minister`s relatives were also
injured but officials said they were out of danger.

Peshawar city police chief Liaqat Ali Khan said three
policemen, including an officer, were among the dead. Other
officials said a young girl and a woman were also killed.

Khan said there were reports that two more suicide
bombers could be in the area around the minister`s residence.
He asked people to leave the area and return home so that
police could carry out a thorough search.

"The bomber came through an entrance that was being
used by guests coming to the minister`s home. He exploded
himself when he was stopped at a check post," Khan said.
Eight to ten kilograms of explosives were used in the
attack, he added.

Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain had been getting
threats from the Taliban for a long time.

Hussain, the most visible face of the Khyber-
Pakhtunkhwa government, is usually the first official to visit
the site of terrorist attacks and had often criticised the
militants for carrying out suicide attacks.

Bilour said the ANP and its government in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa would not be cowed down by such attacks.

"We will continue our campaign against the militants.
We have always been at the frontline of the war against
terrorism. If the militants think they can make us fear them
by killing our leaders and their children, they are mistaken,"
he told the media.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the
suicide attack, describing it as a "barbaric and cowardly
act".

"These terrorist are not only insane and inhuman, they
have no regard for any religious beliefs or social values.
Such cowardly acts cannot weaken the will of the people
against terrorism," he said.

He directed the provincial government to increase
vigilance at the public places. Gilani also directed law
enforcement agencies to investigate the attack and make
efforts to nab those behind such incidents.

PTI