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President of the Awami National Party, Asfandyar Wali Khan (2nd R), pays his respects in front of the coffin of Bashir Bilour, the number two to the chief minister of the province, during a funeral ceremony in Peshawar on December 23, 2012.— Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: Amid tears and sobs, senior minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bashir Ahmed Bilour — who was assassinated in a suicide attack here on Saturday — was laid to rest in a local graveyard on Sunday.

A large number of people attended the funeral.

With helicopters hovering overhead, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan and other political leaders joined hundreds of members of the ANP in a sports stadium for the funeral prayer, reports AFP.

Security gates were set up at the entrance of the Karnal Sher Khan Stadium and people were allowed in after body searches. Authorities had installed jamming equipment to block mobile phone signals, which are widely used by terrorists to trigger bombs.

Draped in national flag, Bashir Bilour's coffin was brought from his brother’s residence in an ambulance which later drove to Syed Hassan Pir graveyard where he was buried near his mother's grave.

Talking to reporters, Asfandyar Wali Khan said that their war against militants would not end. “Such barbaric acts of terrorism further strengthen our resolve to fight militants till their elimination. The militants are mistaken if they think that they would scare us away through bombs and attacks,” he said.

“The terrorists are targeting ANP leaders and workers from tribal areas,” Mr Khan said and added that the sacrifice of Bashir Bilour and other ANP leaders and activists would not go waste because they were harbingers of peace.

“A leader of Bashir Bilour’s calibre doesn’t fear anyone except Allah. He walked fearlessly and preferred to die as a martyr,” Mr Khan said. “We have lost a committed and determined political worker whose absence will be felt for long,” he said.

Bashir Bilour’s grief-stricken sons Usman Ahmed Bilour and Haroon Bilour said that they were proud of their father’s bravery and sacrifice and vowed to continue his mission till the eradication of militancy.

“He stood like a rock against militants which gave courage to the people,” Usman said. “We have to give up the idea of good and bad Taliban and launch aggressive campaigns against terrorists,” he said.

APP adds: Those who attended the funeral prayer included Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Barrister Masood Kausar, Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti, president’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Khan Babar, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and general secretary Mushahid Hussain Syed, leader of opposition in KP Assembly Akram Khan Durrani, Balochistan National Party leader Hasil Bazenjo, PML-N’s senior vice-president Amir Muqam, Qaumi Watan Party chairman Aftab Ahmed Sherpao and Gulfaraz Khattak, a member of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Coordination Committee.

Bashir Bilour, his secretary Noor Mohammad Khan, SHO Sattar Khan and six other people were killed and 18 injured when a suicide bomber struck at the end of an ANP corner meeting in Qissa Khwani Bazaar.

President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf chairman Imran Khan and MQM chief Altaf Hussain have expressed profound grief over the death of Bashir Bilour.

The national flag on public buildings was lowered to half mast as the federal government had announced one-day mourning and the KP government three-day mourning. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter of the ANP has announced 10-day mourning.