ISLAMABAD — Authorities in insurgency-hit northwestern Pakistan say that a suicide bomber has killed a provincial minister and at least seven others as the Muslim nation marked the annual festival of Eid al-Adha.
The deadly bombing occurred Wednesday evening in a far flung volatile town (Kulachi) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Local authorities say that the regional law minister, Israrullah Khan Gandapur, was apparently the target.
A spokesman for the provincial administration, Shiraz Paracha, says that the slain minister was holding a meeting in connection with the Eid celebrations when the suicide bomber struck.
“A man went into Mr. Israrullah Khan Gandapur’s residence, where he was meeting and greeting people on the Eid day, and he blew himself up,” Paracha said. "So far, police have found (both) legs of the suspected suicidal bomber. They are collecting evidence, as we speak, from the spot.”
Police and hospital officials say the powerful explosion wounded more than two dozen people. The Pakistani province, particularly its capital Peshawar, has witnessed several deadly bombings in recent weeks.
The violence has claimed nearly 200 lives since late September but local police have yet to report progress in ongoing investigations into some of the recent attacks.
Provincial government spokesman Paracha says that all possible efforts are being made to counter the terrorist activities.
“In the past few months, the police and security services have arrested a number of people and due to their information gathering, intelligence gathering they have foiled many possible attacks,” Paracha said.
While no one claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s violence, the Pakistani Taliban, an off-shoot of the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan, has been blamed for previous bloodshed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other parts of the country.
The political party Tehreek-e-Insaf headed by Pakistan’s former cricket star, Imran Khan, rules the violence-plagued province. Mr. Khan and the federal government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif both have been in favor of peace talks with the Taliban for ending militancy in the country.
But that policy has lately come under severe criticism in the wake of ongoing extremist violence coupled with the Taliban’s refusal to lay down arms and accept Pakistan’s constitution.