A suicide bomber has killed a Pakistani provincial minister and at least nine other people. Shuja Khanzada was very active in crackdowns on militants and Taliban insurgents.
Shuja Khanzada, Home Minister of Punjab, was killed after the blast brought down the roof of a building where he was holding a meeting in Shadi Khan in the Attock district, local officials told AFP on Sunday.
“Punjab Home Minister has embraced martyrdom,” chief rescue official Mohammad Ashfaq told AFP. Saeed Illahi, an advisor to the province’s chief minister, confirmed Khanzada’s death.
At least nine other people were killed in the attack, though there were up to 40 people in the building when the suicide bomber blew himself up. Two police officers were among the victims of the attack that occurred 70 kilometers (43 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad, a police spokeswoman told reporters.
Lashkar-e-Islam, a Taliban-affiliated militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened that such attacks would continue in the future. However, it was unclear if the militant group, which is based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, had actually carried out the attack or was just taking credit for it.
Death threats from insurgent groups
Khanzada was very active in crackdowns on sectarian militants and Taliban insurgents in Punjab, the biggest and wealthiest province in Pakistan.
The Minister for Parliamentarian Affairs, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, told reporters from the public broadcaster Pakistan Television that Khanzada had recently received death threats from insurgent groups.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and expressed his condolences for all the victims.
Pakistan’s offensive against militants has intensified after Taliban gunmen murdered more than 130 children at a school in the northwest of the country in December 2014.