A bomb killed one of Pakistan’s provincial ministers and at least eight others when it destroyed the minister’s home yesterday in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s political heartland, rescue officials said.
Police said the blast appeared to be a suicide attack, and it had caused the roof to cave in as Punjab Province Home Minister Shuja Khanzada held meetings with about 20 people in his hometown of Attock in northern Pakistan.
Punjab provincial health adviser Salman Rafiq said Khanzada had died.
Punjab is Pakistan’s biggest and wealthiest province.
“There were between 20 and 30 people present when the blast took place,” district information officer Shahzad Niaz said. “The roof collapsed.”
Rescue workers at the scene said nine bodies had been recovered so far.
A Taliban-affiliated militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for military operations against them.
“Such types of attacks will continue in the future,” spokesman Saluddin Ayubi said.
It was unclear if group, based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, had actually carried out the attack or was just taking credit for it.
In other news, India and Pakistan exchanged fire again overnight across their tense border in Kashmir as the death toll on the Indian side from weekend firing reached six, Indian officials said yesterday.
Indian soldiers retaliated after coming under fire from Pakistani rockets in the Poonch sector, 320km south of the region’s main city of Srinagar, Indian Ministry of Defense spokesman Manish Mehta said.
Three civilians, including a woman, died overnight in hospitals from injuries sustained in firing on Saturday, said Danesh Rana, inspector-general of police for the region.
Three others were killed on Saturday night when a mortar bomb fired from the Pakistani side hit their car in the Balakote area of the sector, Indian officials have said.
“The number of dead civilians is now six,” Rana said.
Pakistan on Saturday said that two male civilians were killed on its side in the latest firing, while a woman died on Friday.
Additional reporting by AFP
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