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Suicide attack
A man stands near a motorbike damaged by a suicide bombing at Swabi near Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday, March, 30, 2011. A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle attacked a police checkpoint striking amid a crowd gathered along the road to greet a prominent hardline Islamist politician and killing many people, police said. - AP Photo

SWABI: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman escaped unhurt on Wednesday when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a convoy he was leading on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway. Two policemen and eight civilians were killed. The bomber who was on a motorcycle blew himself up near the Swabi interchange at about 11am when the convoy of JUI-F leader was about 12km from the venue of the meeting organised by the party.

Maulana Fazl and other leaders appeared to be the target of the attack, JUI-F sources said.

Eyewitnesses said that JUI workers, who were there to receive the convoy, and police personnel had spotted the suspect and signalled him to stop, but he detonated the explosives he was carrying. A sub-inspector, a constable and seven JUI workers and another person were killed and 21 were injured.

They said the injured were crying for help and human limbs were scattered all over the place. The injured were taken to Shahmansoor Hospital Complex and Khunda civil hospital in Swabi.Police said the head of the bomber had been found. He carried a student card which identified him as Irshad from Qambarabad in Khyber Agency. His motorcycle was without a registration number.

Bomb disposal squad personnel said 7 to 8kg of explosives had been used in the attack.

It was the second suicide bombing in the district since Nov 1 last year when two policemen were killed in an attack on Swabi police lines.

The JUI-F workers said they had received former chief minister Akram Khan Durrani at the interchange and moments before Maulana Fazl’s convoy reached there the blast rocked the area. The convoy was stopped there and the party meeting was cancelled.

Swabi DCO Syed Abdul Jabar Shah said the bomber blew himself when Sub-Inspector Sardar Ali asked him to stop for body search.

He said he could not say if Maulana Fazl was the target, but it was undoubtedly an act of terrorism aimed at creating fear and panic among people.

The deceased have been identified as SI Sardar Ali, constable Qaisar Khan, Said Anwar, Mohammad Saleh, Akhtar Jan, Saqib Nawaz, Mushtaq Hussain, Razwanullah, Abubakar and Mushtaq.District Health Officer Gul Mohammad told newsmen that eight critically injured people were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

AP adds: No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. An attack targeting Maulana Fazl or his supporters would be unusual — but not unheard of — because of their hardline views.

The most prominent militant sympathiser reportedly killed by insurgents was former intelligence officer Sultan Amir Tarar — better known as Col Imam — who helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The Pakistani Taliban said in February that they shot and killed Col Imam after holding him captive for 10 months because the government failed to meet their demands.The Pakistani government disputed the Taliban’s claims, saying Col Imam died of a heart attack in January while in captivity.

About a year ago, a suicide bomber attacked a rally being held by the Jamat-i-Islami that is sympathetic to many of the goals of the Taliban and regularly criticises army operations against them. The attack killed more than 20 police and civilians.

Police speculated the target may have been officers watching over the rally.