DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Oct 18: A little-known shadowy group, Ansarul Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s suicide attack in which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Law Minister Israrullah Gandapur and seven others were killed and many more injured.
The minister was killed in his hometown of Kulachi, about 50km west of Dera Ismail Khan, as he greeted people of his village who had come there to offer Eidul Azha greetings.
Government officials blamed the Waziristan-based Gandapur group led by Mufti Shafique for the bombing and said law-enforcement agencies and the home department had been informed before Eid about militants’ activities in Luni-Kulachi area.
“The bomber was provided by another group,” an official said.
According to the officials, Ansarul Mujahideen said it had avenged the death of their two men during the D.I. Khan jailbreak.
“Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the jailbreak and now Ansarul Mujahideen says it killed Israrullah Gandapur to avenge the death of its two fighters. We are now determining if Ansarul Mujahideen is a part of the TTP or the claim has been made to create confusion,” a senior official said.
“A couple of other shadowy organisations have emerged recently with the aim of creating confusion. We know where they are coming from,” the official said but did not elaborate.
Abu Baseer, who claimed to represent Ansarul Mujahideen, called reporters on phone from an unspecified place and said his organisation had carried out the suicide attack.
The death of the PTI minister shocked the party which rules Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Israrullah Gandapur is the third lawmaker to lose his life since the party came to power after the May 11 elections.
The killing prompted Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to convene an emergency meeting of the cabinet which criticised the delay in holding talks with militants but, at the same time, vowed to fight terrorism with all resources at its disposal – a small departure from its past soft policy.
The chief minister ordered an inquiry while PTI chief Imran Khan directed that perpetrators of the bombing be brought to justice, but stopped short of blaming or naming any group responsible for the attack.
The officials said the ‘Gandapur group’ was an affiliate of TTP and had been active in the area.
Israr Gandapur, 38, had survived a roadside bombing during his election campaign in April, but officials said that efforts had been made to patch up things and allow the then independent candidate to tour the constituency he had inherited from his father Sardar Inayatullah Khan Gandapur.
Police quoted witnesses as saying that an armed militant killed a police guard outside Gandapur’s house and detonated his suicide vest when the minister was exchanging Eid greetings with his relatives and supporters.
A pistol and a hand-grenade were found at the site.
The suicide vest, according to an official of the bomb disposal squad, weighed eight kilograms. Police said they had found limbs of the bomber.
Chief Minister Khattak told reporters after attending funeral prayers of the slain lawmaker that all parties had endorsed the call for peace talks with militants, but said there should be an option if talks failed. He regretted that amid talk of peace unabated incidents of terrorism were continuing which was beyond comprehension.