Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a meeting the minister was attending.
- Minister Col Shuja Khanzada who had campaigned against militants was killed.
- Other people were killed and injuring several.
Minister Col Shuja Khanzada had been holding a meeting with local people. He was trapped with several others under the rubble after the blast brought down the roof of the building in the village of Shadi Khan in Attock district. “The death toll has risen to 11, including the minister and two police officials,” Mushtaq Sukhera, provincial police chief said.
Twenty-two people had been taken to hospital, he said, adding that the body of the suicide bomber was also found. Deputy Superintendent of Police Shaukat Shah was also among those who died in the blast.
“Rescue work was on to retrieve the people trapped under the rubble of the roof which collapsed due to the bombing. The banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Khanzada,” sources in the interior ministry said.
In July, they alleged Khanzada had received threats from al-Qaeda and Tahreek-i-Taliban Pakistan following the killing of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq.
“Such dastardly coward attempts can’t dent our national resolve to eliminate the menace, Khanzada Shaheed was a bold officer whose sacrifice for the greater cause of cleansing Pakistan won’t go to waste,” army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said.
Minister Col Shuja Khanzada assumed the charge of home ministry in October 2014 and has been actively involved in major operations against terror outfits in the province.
According to Retired Major General Mubashir Zahid it appeared that those involved in the attack had some sympathisers in the government ranks. “The attack on the minister was well-coordinated showing that the terrorists had full information about him,” he said.
Officials said there were up to 40 people in the compound when the suicide bomber blew himself up, causing the entire roof slab to fall complicating rescue efforts. A specially-trained team of army rescuers with modern equipment was working with civilian rescuers to lift and cut sections of the fallen roof to reach the victims.
Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 190 million people, is plagued by a Taliban insurgency, criminal gangs and sectarian violence. Punjab, which is Pakistan’s biggest and wealthiest province, has traditionally been more peaceful than other parts of Pakistan.IMAGE/AP