Chief of his own faction of Pakistan Peoples Party Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao had a narrow escape on Saturday when a suicide bomber targeted his vehicle in the Charsadda district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. A policeman was killed and six people were injured in the assassination attempt on Sherpao in his home constituency.
The suicide bomber struck as Sherpao returned with his son and another lawmaker from a rally in Battagram, on the outskirts of Shabqadar Town, District Police Officer (DPO) Nisar Marwat said.
“The bomber walked into the security convoy at Kangra village and detonated the explosives strapped to his body near the four-wheeler in which Sherpao was travelling,” he added.
“A policeman was killed and eight others were wounded in the attack,” Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told AFP. The injured included Sherpao, his son MPA Sikandar Sherpao, PPP-S provincial President MPA Mohammad Ali Mohmand and police inspector Jamshed.
Medics at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital said that both the Sherpaos received injuries by shards of broken glass and that they were out of danger.
Eyewitnesses Naib Khan told The Express Tribune that when Sherpao’s convoy reached Kangra village, the bomber jumped from along the roadside and blew himself up near Sherpao’s vehicle.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Zahir Shah, who was an eyewitness to the attack, told The Express Tribune that the bomber was hiding in a roadside thicket and detonated the charge as soon as Sherpao’s vehicle passed by.
An official of the bomb disposal squad told The Express Tribune that five to six kilogrammes of explosives with ball bearings were used in the attack.
A local leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack. “We made this attack because Aftab Sherpao has cooperated with the government for an operation against us in the tribal areas,” Omer Khalid told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
PPP-S leaders have frequently been targeted in suicide attacks over the past few years, with the party’s leadership surviving four attacks.
The PPP-S spokesperson said in a statement that the party offices would remain closed for a daylong mourning.
On February 11, five people were killed and 27 injured when an explosives-laden motorbike ripped through a huge crowd in Nowshera at an Awami National Party rally. Sixteen people were injured in a grenade attack on a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf rally in Swabi.
(With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2012.