Top Pakistani Official, Seven Others, Killed In Suicide Attack
December 22, 2012
by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
At least eight people, including a top provincial official, have been killed in a suicide bomb attack on a political gathering in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.
Police officials said that a suicide bomber blew himself up at a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP) that rules the province.
The senior minister of the provincial government, Bashir Bilour, suffered severe wounds to his chest and later died in hospital.
Bilour was known as an outspoken critic of the Pakistani Taliban and received numerous death threats from the militant group.
Shortly before the attack, Bilour told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal that he was not afraid of terrorists' threats and attacks.
'You may know that these terrorists had announced that they would target the ANP. They gave us a five-day ultimatum that we should resign; otherwise we would be slaughtered,' he said. 'And now, before general elections, they gave us another ultimatum, that they won't let the ANP into the election campaign. But I informed them again and again through your media that with the mercy of Allah, we are not afraid.
'If there will be death, let it be so, but we will continue our campaign. We will, inshallah, win the elections and we will form the government. These terrorists will be using terror and we will fight against them. Their bullets will be finished, but our chests won't be hurt and we will fight against them.'
Bilour's secretary and a senior police officer were among the dead. Officials said at least 18 others were injured in the blast.
Media reports said the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The militant group has frequently targeted the leaders of the liberal ANP.
Bomb-disposal experts said that the suicide bomber detonated his explosives when the party meeting was at its peak.
Police said around 100 people had gathered for the meeting in the provincial capital, Peshawar, when the suicide bomber blew himself up.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf have condemned the attack.
With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and radio.gov.pk
Copyright (c) 2012. 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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