NADER BUNERI & WAJID ALI
PESHAWAR - Two persons including a policeman were killed and seven others wounded when a suicide bomber blew up himself near the convoy of PPP-S Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao in Shabqadar area on Saturday.
The blast occurred when the public rally of Pakistan People’s Party (Sherpao) was concluded and party leaders were going back. Sherpao, who as the interior minister had supervised operations against the Taliban during the tenure of former president Pervez Musharraf, escaped unharmed in the attack.
The suicide bomber targeted the police mobile which was escorting the convoy of PPP-S leadership. Constable Bashir and a minor girl were killed in the attack while seven others including son of Sherpao, MPA Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao and Mohammad Ali, another provincial lawmaker, sustained injuries.
Soon after the explosion, a large number of people and rescue workers rushed to the site and shifted the injured persons to Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. Security personnel also reached the blast site and cordoned off the area. Aftab Sherpao, too, visited the site and examined the situation. Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, PPP leaders Zahir Shah and Arbab Alamgir and other high ranking police officers visited the Lady Reading Hospital to inquire after the health of the injured persons.
District Police Chief Nisar Khan confirmed it was a suicide attack and its target was former interior minister Aftab Sherpao.
It bears mentioning here that PPP-S Chairman Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao has been a target of militants since he launched operation against Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad. Soon after that operation, the number of suicide attacks intensified across the country. In April 2007, a suicide bomber attacked a rally of PPP-S, killing 28 people and injuring dozens of others. A few days later, militants again targeted a mosque where Sherpao went to offer Eid prayer in his hometown of Charsadda. The attack left 50 persons killed and dozens of worshippers injured.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman for Mohmand Agency claimed responsibility and vowed to continue such attacks.
The AFP reported that a local Taliban leader, Omer Khalid, said: “We made this attack because Aftab Sherpao has cooperated with the government for an operation against us in the tribal areas.“
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar strongly condemned the suicide attack on the convoy of the former interior minister and termed it an inhuman act of terrorism.