30 die in Pak blast; minister, son hurt
Islamabad, April 28
Interior secretary Kamal Shah said Sherpao and his son Sikander, also a member of parliament, were slightly wounded in the attack that took place at Charsadda, the hometown of the minister, about 40 minutes drive from NWFP capital Peshawar.
They were out of danger and had been shifted to their residence in Peshawar, he said.
State-run PTV showed that Sherpao, with injuries on his face, looked stable and walked towards the car accompanied by his supporters.
Shah said the death toll was already 17 from the suicide attack while NWFP province police chief Sharif Virk said three of the wounded brought to a hospital in Peshawar also succumbed to their wounds.
However, local journalist Sabz Ali, who was present at the site, said he saw more than 30 bodies lying around.
“It was a suicide bomb attack and the head of the suspected bomber has been found. He appears to be of Afghan origin,” Virk told PTI.
Ali also said he saw a suicide bomber rushing towards Sherpao after the meeting ended. The explosion took place when the minister was walking towards his official car.
Sherpao, who has been in the forefront of an anti-terrorism drive, was saved by his supporters who surgedtowards him to greet him just before the blast took place. Most of the killed were those who had rushed to greet him.
Television footage immediately after the blast showed a number of bodies strewn around.
Some other politicians were also present at the rally, but there was no immediate information about them.
President Pervez Musharraf, presently on a foreign tour, and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz condemned the attack.
Aziz called it an act of “cowardice” and ordered the local authorities to extend proper medical facilities to the injured. Some 22 wounded were brought to Reading Hospital in Peshawar while the rest had been sent to other hospitals.
Sherpao was considered to be high on the hit list of Islamic militants next to Musharraf and Aziz, both of whom had survived suicide attacks in the past.
Today’s bombing took place at a time when pro-Taliban militants in Waziristan tribal region were threatening suicide attacks in the name of Pak-Taliban. — PTI