A policeman stands beside the wreckage of a destroyed police vehicle after a roadside bomb explosion in the Martoong area of Swat valley. -AFP Photo
PESHAWAR: Unknown gunmen shot dead a senior opposition leader along with two others in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday, police said, hours after a bomb attack in another part of the region killed five.
Mian Mushtaq, a former high-ranking member of the secular Awami National Party (ANP) that ruled the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province until last year, was in his car when he was attacked, senior police official Rahim Shah told AFP.
“Up to four gunmen had taken position on both sides of a road and as soon as Mian Mushtaq's car passed they started firing and fled in the nearby fields,” Shah said.
“Mian Mushtaq and two others died in the firing,” he added.
The ANP is known for its outspoken views against the Taliban and backed military operations against the insurgents while it ruled the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for five years till March 2013.
Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) has now formed a coalition government in the province but ANP leaders remain in the militants' sights.
Earlier in the day two roadside bombs targeting Amir Muqam of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party killed five of his security detail in the Martoong area of Swat valley, which the Taliban controlled from 2007-2009.
“At least five policemen were killed and four others were wounded,” senior police official Abdullah Khan told AFP.
The dead and wounded were travelling in the security car that was leading the other vehicles, he said.
Another senior police official, Gulzar Khan, confirmed the attack, which was later condemned in a statement by the prime minister's office.
Khan said two improvised explosive devices weighing two kilograms (4.4 pounds) each were remotely detonated minutes apart and a third unexploded device found at the crime scene was defused by a bomb disposal squad.
Muqam, an adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, told AFP that he was safe but distraught over the loss of the men in his security detail.
“I thank God for saving my life. I am very sad over the loss of my people who gave their lives while protecting me,” he said.
He said that he was travelling in the area with some 15 vehicles in his convoy as part of campaign efforts for local elections.
The Pakistani Taliban, other militant affiliates and al Qaeda-linked networks all have strongholds in the country's northwest, particularly in the semi-autonomous areas on the Afghan border.