PESHAWAR: A bomb blast targeting the convoy of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) party killed at least 12 people and wounded several others in the northwestern Pakistani town of Charsadda on Thursday, police said.Today’s bombing was the second attack against the politician and his supporters in as many days.
“The bomb blast hit a police vehicle deployed for security of the convoy,” senior police official Nisar Khan Marwat told AFP.
Fazlur Rehman and his companions were unharmed, Marwat said, adding that the politician had gone to the town to address a party meeting.
JUI-F spokesman Asif Iqbal Daudzai confirmed that the party chief and other leaders were not hurt, but two security guards travelling in the vehicle in front were wounded.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman and others are safe, their vehicle was damaged in the bomb blast,” Daudzai told AFP.
Moreover, Abdul Jalil Jan, a JUI leader told Reuters: "The bomb exploded just when Maulana Fazlur Rehman's vehicle passed that area. He was on his way to attend a public meeting. He is safe and sound."
Ajmal Khan Naimat, a top government official in Charsadda, said nine people were killed and Rehman was apparently the target.
“Yes, Maulana was the target of the attack. We don't know why is he being targeted,” Rehman's aide Jan said.
It was the second attack on Fazlur Rehman and his supporters in two days. On Wednesday a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up near a police checkpoint killing 10 people and wounding more than 20 in the northwestern town of Swabi.
Fazlur Rehman was on his way to a public meeting in Swabi when the blast happened.
Thursday's attack was the latest episode of political violence in Pakistan this year. In January, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was shot dead by a bodyguard for his opposition to the country's blasphemy law. On March 2, Minister for Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti was assassinated.
Militants linked to al Qaeda and Taliban have waged a campaign of suicide attacks across Pakistan, mainly in the northwest bordering Afghanistan, in retaliation for government offensives against insurgent strongholds.
Fazlur Rehman, a firebrand orator, is opposed to Pakistan's alliance with the United States in the fight against militants.
His party was part of the coalition government until December 2010, when it pulled out after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked two ministers, including one JUI-F member, for publicly trading accusations of corruption.