Bilour, Zehri survive attacks

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Ghulam Bilour is brought to a hospital after the blast. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

Ghulam Bilour is brought to a hospital after the blast. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD IQBAL/EXPRESS

BALOCHISTAN / MIRAMSHAH / NORTH WAZIRISTAN / PESHAWAR / QUETTA: 

It was the bloodiest day yet on the campaign trail.

At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured when militants bent on derailing next month’s election mounted suicide and bomb attacks on two prominent politicians in the provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan on Tuesday.

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, senior leader of the Awami National Party (ANP), and Sardar Sanaullah Zehri, provincial president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), both of whom were the apparent targets of the separate attacks, survived.

In the Peshawar attack, which took place in the evening, a suicide bomber blew himself up near the venue of an ANP corner meeting in the Yakatot area, on Munda Beri Road. Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the former federal minister for railways, was the chief guest at the meeting which was arranged to welcome new members in the party.

Ghulam Bilour’s younger brother, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, was killed by a Taliban suicide bomber in a similar attack on December 22, 2012. Bashir Bilour was a senior minister in the provincial cabinet.

Bilour escaped Tuesday’s bombing with cuts and bruises. The bomber struck near the first vehicle in the security squad of Bilour who was at least 15 metres away from the site.

“The bomber stood waiting and detonated the explosives when the chief guest’s convoy drove in,” SHO (Investigation) Sabz Ali Khan told The Express Tribune. The casualties were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital (LHR). The hospital’s chief executive, Arshad Javed, confirmed 16 deaths and 61 injured – eight of whom are in critical condition.

Journalists were also among the casualties. Tariq Aslam Durrani, subeditor at Urdu daily Pakistan, was killed, while his colleague Azhar Ali Shah and Express News reporter Ihtesham Khan were injured.

Abid Khan, SHO of Kutwali police station, confirmed the death of six police officials in the blast. He identified them as ASI Hussain Khan, his gunman Farhad and driver Amjad, and Punjab police constables Dildar and Tora Baz Khan.

The corner meeting was taking place in Khyber Plaza and the market president Haji Naseeruddin was scheduled to join the ANP. “When I stood up and started my speech I was told that the chief guest has also arrived. People rushed to receive Haji Bilour and moments later a huge explosion went off,” ANP worker Niaz Muhammad Mohmand told The Express Tribune.

“Our market is a kite market so we decorated the plaza with red kites which attracted a large number of children,” said eyewitness Shahzad Khan. “I was tossed up by the impact of the blast. I regained my composure 20 minutes later to find myself surrounded by chaos– victims crying for help and blood splattered all over,” he added.

Bomb Disposal Squad official Abdul Haq said that the bomber carried at least seven kilogrammes of explosives in his vest.

The TTP quickly claimed credit for the attack. Speaking to journalists by phone, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that their target was Haroon Bilour, the son of the late Bashir Bilour and nephew of Ghulam Bilour. “We missed our target,” he said and renewed the threat to continue attacks on three ‘secular’ political parties: ANP, PPP and MQM.

Former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said that such attacks could not deter his party from contesting elections. “The ANP will not pull out from the elections, come what may,” he told journalists. He added that the ANP would take part in elections even if security was withdrawn.

Hussain credited his party for standing up against terrorists and carrying out its election campaigns everywhere like other parties in the country. “Elections should not be delayed for even a second. If we lose, we will concede our defeat with an open heart,” he added.

The ANP, meanwhile, convened an emergency meeting on April 18 under party chief Asfandyar Wali Khan. The caretaker provincial government also convened an all-party conference at the Chief Minister House at 4pm today.

Earlier, PML-N Provincial President Nawab Sanuallah Zehri survived a roadside bomb in the Zheri Ghat area of the Zehri Tribal Territory, some 320 kilometers away from Quetta. The bomb, which was detonated remotely, killed Zehri’s son, brother and a nephew.

Sanaullah Zehri was travelling in a convoy of 30-35 vehicles, and was en route to the Zehri Tribal Territory to campaign for the elections.

“When the convoy reached the Ghat Bulbul Tarsani area, a bomb went off, destroying a vehicle carrying four people – including Sanaullah’s son Mir Sikandar Zehri, his nephew Mir Zaib Zehri and his younger brother Mehrullah Zehri and their guard,” Abdul Wahid, the head constable at Levies station, told The Express Tribune. “The bomb was planted underneath an underpass.”

The four people were killed on the spot and another 30 were wounded in the blast which destroyed four vehicles. The casualties were shifted to the Divisional Headquarters Hospital in Khuzdar.

Caretaker Chief Minister Nawab Ghaus Bakhsh Khan Barozai condemned the attack and offered condolences to Sanaullah over the death of his relatives. He termed the attack a cowardly attempt to sabotage the upcoming elections.

Separately, another nephew of Sanaullah Zehri also escaped a remote-controlled bomb attack in the Mangochar area of Kalat district, some 160 kilometres from Quetta.

According to police, Doda Khan Zehri was en route to Zehri from Quetta when suspected insurgents remotely detonated a roadside bomb near his convoy in the Mangochar area. The convoy narrowly escaped the blast.

Sources said that Doda Khan was going to offer condolences to his uncle Sanaullah Khan on the demise of his son, brother and nephew.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2013.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (12)

  • Shahid
    Apr 17, 2013 - 3:49AM

    TTP wants PTI ( the non-secular party to win).

    Recommend

  • Ali Khan
    Apr 17, 2013 - 3:59AM

    A cleanup operation is needed now army and public has to come forward
    and start a elimination operation.Recommend

  • Saleem
    Apr 17, 2013 - 4:33AM

    Everyone needs to condemn loss of human life. It is about time that army needs to treat these ruthless terrorist the same way they are treating innocent people. There should not be any support for these terrorists nor for any person or party who provide them tacit support by promoting these terrorist ideas or ideology. We all are Muslims and happy with what we are. About our religion, we don’t need any certification from these terrorist nor from any political party.

    Recommend

  • Hassan
    Apr 17, 2013 - 4:35AM

    If this continues it will be the end of Pakistan. Stop this ! No more excuses !! We cannot have any more. Root out the terrorists where ever they are. Go to FATA. Find every terror cell in the Army. Kick out anyone in government who supports these monsters. Disband the ISI. Disband madrassas. Deport all Arabs. All Pakistanis who want to live like Arabs should move to Yemen. We are fighting a war of national survival. If we lose this war these animals will show no mercy to us !

    Recommend

  • PakArmySoldier
    Apr 17, 2013 - 5:44AM

    @Shahid:
    What rubbish! You have absolutely no evidence to substantiate that. Recommend

  • RAW is WAR
    Apr 17, 2013 - 6:21AM

    @ Hassan
    pakistan will be empty then.

    Recommend

  • Gul Khan Momand
    Apr 17, 2013 - 6:28AM

    @Shahid:

    And you are still playing your dirty politics, even though I am not the supporter of PTI.

    Recommend

  • jssidhoo
    Apr 17, 2013 - 8:03AM

    @Hassan: Save Pakistan for the Pakistanis

    Recommend

  • nasir afridi
    Apr 17, 2013 - 9:07AM

    @shahid 100% agree but not only TTP, their supporters sitting in pindi and in islamabad also wants this. To me thisis not a free and fair election but merely selection.Recommend

  • expaki
    Apr 17, 2013 - 6:37PM

    @Shahid: “TTP wants PTI ( the non-secular party to win)” Shajid Sahib, You RIGHT.
    @PakArmySoldier “What rubbish! You have absolutely no evidence to substantiate that”
    You too are RIGHT.

    and I very humbly request you both to tell me why Innocents are being slaughtered, and reason of that.? Please do not mix religion in your answer, simple reason to make me understand that my KHUDA – Bagwan, and Allah of Arab,has anything to do with this mess?
    Yaro ! think of Zehri, who lost his son, his nephew and his brother. How you can express your condolences to people like Zehri and with what word?

    Moderator Sahib !! I feel you were never CENSORED in your life, that is why you do not hesitate in KILLING ideas of others. Thank you.

    Recommend

  • Awais
    Apr 17, 2013 - 6:57PM

    Unfortunate loss of human life. May Allah forgive all the departed souls and also give patience and strength to the families who have lost the loved ones.

    That being said, I hope these events change the mindset of our corrupt politicians. God forbid, they could be among the victims too. Don’t they fear at all about how are they going to answer Allah about all the looted money and injustices that they do to poor people using their authority?

    May Allah save us from all the trials and tribulations. Ameen!

    Recommend

  • Ayesha
    Apr 17, 2013 - 7:22PM

    Haroon Bilour don’t contest the elections the TTP are targeting you not your uncle… Don’t contest your life is more important than the elections!! Stay safe everyone! :)

    Recommend

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