CHARSADDA: A policeman and a little girl were killed when a suicide bomber attacked the motorcade of former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao near Kangra village on Saturday soon after he left the venue of a public meeting in nearby Battgram village of Shabqadar tehsil.
A member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and six other people were injured in the bombing.
Mr Sherpao, who is chief of the PPP-S and a member of the National Assembly, and his son Sikander Sherpao, member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, narrowly survived the attack as the explosion badly damaged their Land Cruiser.
The dead policeman was identified as Shabir Khan and the five-year girl was the daughter of Syed Ahmad Shah.
Mohammad Ali Khan, an MPA who hails from the same area, received injuries but doctors at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said his condition was stable.
Sikander Sherpao got a slight injury on his hand and leg.
An official of the bomb disposal squad said the bomber, wearing a suicide jacket, carried about 5kg of explosive material. He said police took a part of the head and two legs of the bomber into its possession.
“I saw a young man in a shawl rushing towards the vehicle of Sherpao Khan. Soon I heard a deafening sound as the man exploded himself,” said Said Gul, another policeman accompanying the convoy of Mr Sherpao. He said the limbs of the bomber were scattered all around.
He said Mr Sherpao, Sikander and Mohammad Ali were in the same vehicle and they had travelled around two to three kilometres when the bomber struck.
Mr Sherpao rushed to Lady Reading Hospital from where they left for their residence.
“These things are part of our life and we can’t be cowed down with them,” said a perturbed Mr Sherpao, while leaving the hospital. He said it was a suicide attack.
The PPP-S leader was reluctant to leave the injured, but federal minister Arbab Alamgir, provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour and provincial police officer Akber Khan Hoti persuaded him to leave the hospital.
Capital city police chief Imtiaz Altaf, Charsadda district police officer Nisar Khan Marwat and other police high-ups reached the blast site.
Police launched a search operation.A spokesman of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Mohmand Agency, Mukaram Khurasani, claimed responsibility for the attack. “Khurasani said that Mr Sherpao had supported operations in the agency,” said a media person who had received a phone call from him.
Mr Sherpao and his son had survived two devastating suicide blasts in 2007 in their native Charsadda district.