Pakistan minister survives roadside bomb blast
At least two people were killed when a roadside bomb hit the convoy of a Pakistani Cabinet minister in the country’s troubled northwest Thursday, police said.
Akram Khan Durrani, a minister for housing in Nawaz Sharif’s Cabinet, survived the attack as he was traveling in the remote Frontier Region Bannu area near the North Waziristan tribal district after addressing a rally.
“It was an IED which hit two vehicles in Akram Khan Durrani’s convoy. At least two passers-by have been killed,” Tahir Khan, a senior police official in Bannu, told AFP.
Khan said Durrani was traveling in a bomb-proof official vehicle and was safe.
Five people, including two policemen in an escort vehicle, were wounded in the blast which also damaged an ambulance in the convoy, he said.
No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but leaders from Durrani’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party, an ally of the Sharif government, have been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past.
The party’s head Maulana Fazlur Rehman once acted as a negotiator between the militants and the government.
Akram Khan Durrani also worked as a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Top militant killed in ‘shoot-out’
A top member of a Pakistani Sunni extremist group that has been behind numerous bloody attacks on minority Shiite Muslims has been killed in a shoot-out with police, officials said on Thursday.
Haroon Bhatti, a senior member of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), was arrested with the help of Interpol last month in Dubai and brought to Pakistan.
“Bhatti was being interrogated and during the course of interrogation, the police raided a compound of terrorists Wednesday night” in the eastern city of Lahore, senior local police official Omar Virk told AFP.
He said the militants opened fire on the police from the compound.
Bhatti, who had identified the compound for police, had accompanied them on the raid, he said, adding that the extremist and three other militants were killed inside the compound “in the exchange of fire.”
So-called “encounter” killings like Thursday’s incident have long aroused suspicion among rights activists in Pakistan, who accuse the authorities of using them as a means of disposing of troublesome militants and criminals without going through the courts.