ISLAMABAD – Monday, 6 October 2008 – A suicide bomber killed at least 12 people (update 25) and wounded a leading Pakistani opposition politician and member of the minority Shi’ite Muslim community on Monday, police said.
The attack targeted the home of Rashid Akbar Khan Nawani, a member of parliament for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, in the town of Bhakkar, 260 kilometres southwest of Islamabad.
“The bomber blew himself up the courtyard when Mr. Nawani was sitting with his supporters there,” Khadim Hussain, a police officer, told Reuters.
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Shaukat Javed, police chief of Punjab, said 12 people were killed.
Nawani has spoken out in parliament several times recently against growing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
Deep in the central province of Punjab, Bhakkar is in an area where sectarian tensions have run high.
“It could a sectarian related attack as he belongs to the Shi’ite community,” Khan Baig, a senior police officer in the region said.
Several Sunni militant groups, like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, that regard Shi’ites as their enemy, also share a similar world view to al Qaeda and have forged links with Osama bin Laden’s network.
With files from Zeeshan Haider and Simon Cameron-Moore
Suicide blast at PML-N MP’s house kills 25
* Bomber targets Bhakkar MNA Rashid Niwani amid supporters and relatives
* Niwani among 60 injured, but not seriously hurt
BHAKKAR: A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of people at the house of Rashid Akbar Niwani, a Shia MNA from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, killing 25 people and wounding 60 including Niwani.
“It was a suicide attack, the head of the bomber has been recovered,” senior police officer Khadim Hussain told AFP.
“The bomber walked up to the MP’s house and detonated himself in the midst of a crowd of party workers, supporters and relatives,” Hussain said.
Local hospital chief Chaudhry Ahsanul Haq told AFP Niwani had suffered leg injuries. “His condition is not serious, he is alright,” the politician’s brother, Saeed Akbar, told AFP.
Television pictures showed corpses wrapped in cloth and placed on rudimentary beds after the attack, while the blast left pieces of flesh stuck to a ceiling fan.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Punjab IG said an investigation team had been formed.
Officials said the MP might have been targeted because he is Shia and lives in an area where there have been frequent sectarian attacks blamed on Al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Sunni groups.
Nawani has spoken out in parliament several times recently against growing sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias.
Deep in the Punjab, 260 km southwest of Islamabad, Bhakkar is in an area where sectarian tensions have run high. It is close to Dera Ismail Khan, an NWFP town that is a gateway to the South Waziristan tribal region — a notorious sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban..
In 2002, a bomb killed 12 Shia women and children at a nearby religious centre.
“It could be a sectarian-related attack as Niwani belongs to the Shia community,” Khan Baig, a senior police officer in the region, told Reuters.
“Security has been tightened at all exit and entry points of Bhakkar,” Hussain told Reuters. The attack is the third targeting a politician in the country in less than a week.
On Sunday, suspected militants fired rockets near the residence of the NWFP chief minister.
Last week, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the house of Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali, killing four people and underscoring the insurgents’ intent to cripple the civilian administration. agencies (Daily Times)
This is another hallmark product of the unholy nexus of ISI, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and Sipah Sahaba.
Terrorists in Pakistan, supported by ISI, are killing moderate elements of Pakistani society, including leaders of secular/liberal political parties (e.g.PPP, ANP) and also members of ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan, (e.g. Shia Muslims, Christians, and Ahmedis).
The State of Pakistan needs to do a few things without late:
1. Completely overhaul ISI and other intelligence agencies in Pakistan to eliminate all sympathisers of Taliban, Sipah Sahaba, and Al-Qaeda from these agencies;
2. Ban extremist religious (mostly Deobandi) madrassahs in Pakistan. They should be replaced by moderate Deobandi as well as other moderate schools of Islam, particularly those set up in the tradition of Aulia-Allah and Soofi Islam.
3. Ban the publication and propagation of extremist Jihadi and sectarian literature in Pakistan.
4. Swiftly try in summary military courts and execute all those involved in acts of terrorism and sectarianism in Pakistan.