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Pakistan Provincial Official Escapes Suicide Attack

February 15, 2013

by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

MARDAN, Pakistan -- The chief minister of northwestern Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province has escaped unhurt after reportedly being targeted by a suicide bomber.

Local officials told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that the bomber blew himself up as a convoy carrying Chief Minister Amir Haidar Khan Hoti passed through the town of Mardan on February 15.

Hoti belongs to the Awami National Party (ANP), a secular Pashtun party that has been the target of frequent attacks by the Taliban during its five-year rule in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa because of its opposition to extremist groups like the Taliban.

Since 2007, hundreds of ANP members and leaders have been killed or injured in Taliban attacks.

Lawmaker Zahid Khan, a spokesman for the ANP, told Radio Mashaal that Hoti and his entourage were unhurt.

"[Chief Minister Amir Haidar Khan Hoti] was on his way to a function and he is still there [at the function]," Khan said. "When he was going, there was a blast. The police [spotted the bomber], opened fire on him, and he blew himself up. The chief minister and his colleagues are safe."

A police official said the alleged attacker was intercepted before getting close to the convoy and shot by the minister's security squad. Police said the bomber was able to detonate his explosives and two people were injured.

Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the attack. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP that they were also behind three attacks on February 14 that killed at least 18 people in southern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The ANP organized a conference in Islamabad on February 14 where representatives of 26 political and religious parties in Pakistan agreed on a joint strategy for combating terrorism.

The party is pushing for a national consensus on counterterrorism efforts after Bilour Ahmad Bilour, a senior minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber along with eight others on December 22 in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

With additional reporting by AFP and Dawn.com

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-official-survives-attack/24903327.html

Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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