MARDAN, Feb 15: Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa narrowly escaped a suicide attack on his motorcade here on Friday.

DSP Khalid Khan told Dawn that a suicide bomber aged about 23 years attacked the motorcade on the busy Mardan College Chowk when it was on its way to Mardan-i-Khas locality where Mr Hoti was to address a public meeting.

He said legs and hands of the bomber had been found at the site of the blast and a head outside a nearby building.

The DSP said the chief minister appeared to be the target of the bomber but because of strict security measures he could not reach the venue of the public meeting. He said only the bomber, and no-one else, was hurt.

Police cordoned off the area after the blast and started looking for elements behind the attack.

The attack came a day after a multi-party conference convened by the Awami National Party in Islamabad to work out measures to counter militancy and terrorism in the country.

Mr Hoti was not deterred by the attack and he went to the meeting. In his speech, he said terrorists would not stop him and leaders of his party from serving the people.

He said the suicide attack was an attempt to sabotage the process of dialogue for peace initiated by the ANP through the MPC. But, he said, attempts to derail the process would fail and people behind them would be exposed.

The chief minister welcomed political parties’ response to the MPC and said: “We will continue to strive for restoration of peace and will serve the masses without any fear.

He said thousands of workers and leaders of ANP had sacrificed their lives for peace in the country.

Mr Hoti announced that he would contest for two constituencies — NA-9 and PK-23 — from ANP’s platform in the coming elections. He said he had received an offer to contest from Chitral because of the good performance of his administration but he preferred his own constituency in Mardan.

He said his government would distribute 23,000 laptops among talented students in the province to encourage them to work for excellence in their fields of education.