Suicide bomber disguises self as a visitor, assassinates Pakistan minister
Lahore: Pakistan’s Punjab province’s Home Minister Shuja Khanzada was assassinated on Sunday along with at least 18 others when a suicide bomber blew himself up at his house in Shadi Khal village in Attock district. The blast has also claimed the life of Deputy Superintendent of Police Shaukat Shah among others.
Pakistani villagers stand under a portrait of late Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada
Rescue work is on to retrieve the people trapped under the building, which collapsed due to the bombing. Khanzada, 71, a retired colonel, was holding a jirga (reconciliatory meeting with the people of his province) at his house in Shadi Khan, a village that lies a 90 km from Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, when the bomber managed to enter his house disguised as a visitor and blew himself up.
Rescue workers move a body extracted from the wreckage of a building that fell because of the blast. Pics/AFP
“The hall of the building where the meeting was underway collapsed in the blast and over three-dozen people including the minister were trapped in the rubble,” Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said in a statement to the media.
He said that rescue operations are underway and they are trying to save as many people as possible and added that the war against terrorism would continue till the last terrorist is eliminated. Retired Major Gen Mubashir Zahid has said that it appeared that those involved in the attack had ‘some sympathizers’ in the government ranks.
“The attack on the minister was well coordinated, which shows that the terrorists had complete information about him,” he said. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif condemned the attack and said Khanzada has sacrificed his life for a greater objective. Raheel has ordered intelligence agencies to help find the perpetrators.
“The attack will not deter our national resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism,” the army chief said. He also lauded Khanzada as a bold officer. A banned outfit named Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Khanzada, according to sources in the interior ministry.
They alleged that Khanzada was under threat following the killing of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq in July this year. He had earlier received threats from Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. Khanzada assumed the charge of home ministry in October 2014 and had been actively involved in major operations against terror outfits in the province.
He had recently announced in a press conference that the Al-Qaeda Pakistan chief and his accomplices were killed in an operation at the outskirts of Lahore. He is considered as a strong voice against militants in the Punjab cabinet.