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Suicide Attack Targets Pakistan Interior Minister

A suicide bomb blast ripped through a packed political rally in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 22 people and wounding 25 others. From Lahore, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports the country's powerful interior minister is among those wounded.

The bomb blast occurred in the northwestern town of Charsadda, just minutes after Pakistan's interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, addressed a packed public meeting.

Sherpao's interior ministry spokesman, Syed Kamal Shah, says it was definitely a suicide bombing.

He says the attack occurred just as the interior minister finished his speech and was heading toward his car.

He says local security personnel tried to block the suspected bomber as he approached the minister. Seconds later the blast ripped through the crowded rally.

Local television pictures show a visibly wounded Sherpao being rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment where doctors say he is already out of danger.

Authorities say they have recovered the bomber's head and upper body and are trying to learn his identity.

Northwestern Pakistan, where the attack occurred, borders Afghanistan and is believed to be used by pro-Taleban militants as sanctuary.

The bloody attack comes just as Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, are preparing to meet in Turkey to discuss border security.