Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada killed in Attock suicide blast

Published: August 16, 2015
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A file photo of late Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada. PHOTO: EXPRESS

A file photo of late Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD / ATTOCK: Punjab Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada was killed along with 16 others in a suicide blast at his political office in Shadi Khan near Attock on Sunday.

“Home Minister Shuja Khanzada was killed in the suicide blast,” confirmed Adviser to Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif Dr Saeed Elahi.

Khanzada, 71, had been holding a meeting with local people. He was trapped with several others under the rubble after the blast brought down the roof of the house.

“There were two suicide bombers, one stood outside the boundary wall and the second one went inside and stood in front of the minister,” IG Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera told reporters.

“The blast by the bomber standing outside ripped the wall which caused the roof to fall flat on the minister and people gathered there,” he said.

Sukhera added police were investigating whether the attacker  inside the building detonated a bomb.

Rescuers move the body of a victim from the site of a blast at Shadi Khan village. PHOTO: AFP

Read: Khanzada attack in retaliation of LeJ chief’s killing: sources

The death toll rose to 14, including the minister and two police officials, with 23 others injured, the IG Punjab said.

Four of the injured were shifted to DHQ Hospital Rawalpindi but three of them later succumbed to their wounds raising the death toll to 17. Khanzada’s driver of home minister, Ghareeb Nawaz, was also among the dead.

Twenty-two people had been taken to hospital, he said, adding the body of the suicide bomber was also found.

Khanzada’s body was recovered from under the rubble and was transferred to Rawalpindi via helicopter for postmortem.

“There were between 20 and 30 people present when the blast took place,” district information officer Shahzad Niaz told Reuters. “The roof collapsed.”

Rescuers gather at the site of blast. PHOTO: AFP

An injured man walks away as rescue workers search. PHOTO: REUTERS

The rescue and relief operation was concluded after hours of efforts by Rescue 1122 and Pakistan Army, among others. An emergency was also declared in hospitals in the twin cities.

Army and rescue officials gather around the collapsed building. PHOTO: AFP

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had directed for the provision of helicopters from the interior ministry for shifting the injured on an emergency basis.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the blast and DPO Attock reached the site.

He announced a three-day mourning across Punjab.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed also announced one-day mourning over Attock tragedy.

Condemnations pour in

Soon after news of Khanzada’s death, PM Nawaz said, “Sacrifices of our brave nation and valiant heroes like Shuja Khanzada will destroy terrorist designs and they will be chased to their last hideout and eliminated with national resolve and unity.”

“The courage and valour of Shuja Khanzada is message to the masterminds of terrorists that they are bound to be defeated,” he added.

The premier reaffirmed the commitment and determination of the government for pursuing the National Action Plan against terrorism with full force and directed for preemptive security strategy to counter terrorist planning.

PM Nawaz urged law enforcement agencies to not lower their guards till the elimination of the last terrorist.

Read: Muzaffargarh gunfight: LeJ founder Malik Ishaq killed in ‘police encounter’

Army chief General Raheel Sharif also condemned the attack on Khanzada.

“Condemning the terrorist attack on Punjab home minister, army chief directed intelligence agencies to help find perpetrators,” DG ISPR Asim Bajwa said quoting the army chief.

“Such dastardly coward attempts can’t dent our national resolve to eliminate the menace. Khanzada was a bold officer whose sacrifice for the greater cause of cleansing Pakistan won’t go to waste,” he added.

Punjab chief minister also condemned the incident.

Meanwhile, PTI chairman Imran Khan said he was grieved to learn of Khanzada’s death.

Further, President Mamnoon Hussain while condemning the suicide attack on Khanzada said such cowardly attacks could not dent the resolve of Pakistanis to end the scourge of terrorism and extremism.

In a statement, President Mamnoon expressed profound grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of Punjab home minister, saying his martyrdom would not go in vain.

He extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and prayed for them to bear this irreparable loss with courage and fortitude. The president also expressed condolences for other people killed in the blast.

Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana expressed deep sorrow and grief over the loss of lives, including Khanzada’s demise, in the blast, according to Radio Pakistan.

Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah condemned Khanzada’s killing and said they will not rest until terrorism is eliminated. “The attack is an act of cowardice,” he added. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad also condemned the attack.

Further, Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the attack on Khanzada’s political office and called for unity in the national ranks to eliminate terrorism.

In a statement released by PPP’s media cell on Sunday, Bilawal said, “Such cowardly attacks cannot lower the morale of the nation which has risen up against bloodshed and terrorism.” The PPP chairman also prayed for those who lost their lives in the attack and wished for the early recovery of the injured.

Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed also condemned the attack, and urged the government to ensure peace in the province while also demanding practical steps to curb terrorism.

Terming the attack an act of terrorism, he expressed sorrow over the incident and extended condolences to the families of the deceased.

Taliban splinter group claims responsibility for attack

“We accept responsibility of attack on Shuja Khanzada was killed in the attack,” spokesperson for the TTP Jamaatul Ahrar, Ihsanullah Ihsan said in a statement.

The statement was sent to the media and posted online.

Earlier a Taliban-affiliated militant group, Lashkar-e-Islam, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was retaliation for military operations against them, according to Reuters.

It was unclear if Lashkar-e-Islam, based mainly in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, had actually carried out the attack or was just taking credit for it.

Funeral prayers held

The funeral prayers of the late Punjab home minister and slain DSP Shaukat Shah were offered at Police Lines in Attock.

The prayers were attended by Punjab Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, members of national and provincial assemblies, IG Punjab and RPO Rawalpindi, among others.

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Reader Comments (46)

  • Khattak
    Aug 16, 2015 - 12:30PM

    Remind me of Shah Shaheed suburban Kabul blast, how unfortunate. It is war undeclared.Recommend

  • roadkashehzada
    Aug 16, 2015 - 1:12PM

    for those who think its only army who is fighting a war and giving sacrifices.
    any facebook post for khanzada? Recommend

  • ZAK
    Aug 16, 2015 - 2:19PM

    Cowardly act of terrorism.
    Propably the suicide bombing carried out by banned out fit.Recommend

  • Ali
    Aug 16, 2015 - 2:43PM

    Malik Ishaq!!!Recommend

  • MS
    Aug 16, 2015 - 2:59PM

    This would happen when you start believing your own lies. Nothing is done to eliminate root causes of terrorism but they had started celebrating victory and worshipping false heroes. Recommend

  • Aug 16, 2015 - 2:59PM

    It is a sad day for us ,sad day for pml(n),it is a great loss of pml(n),we lost our interior minister of Punjab shuja khanzada , I pay my deep condolences to the wife and family , I pay my condolences to the families of all the victims of shadikhan suicidal attackRecommend

  • Aug 16, 2015 - 3:02PM

    Appears to be the direct result of arranging meeting of Malik Ishaque and his sons with the ‘hoors’, which was credited to Punjab Government and he being home minister was at face of the punjab government. Lets hope state responds even more mercilessly to such cave-dwelling mentality extremists. Recommend

  • roadkashehzada
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:12PM

    we belong to Allah and will return to him.
    إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَRecommend

  • Imran Qadri
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:13PM

    Coward terrorists always attack from behind. This tragic incident should further strengthen our resolve to fight terrorism inside Pakistan and have zero tolerance for any kind of terrorism be it religious(sectarian),ethnic,political or nationalist terrorism. Government should take some urgent steps(constitutional amendments?) so that courts and legal team of law enforcement should do their work properly and never let criminals slip out with paying for their henious crimes. These hardened criminals get caught with so much difficulty in first place and due to weak case by prosecution,they are freed once again to carry out even bigger act of terrorism.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:17PM

    Loss of a good man…….PML-N’s policy of mollycoddling religious extremists for political patronage, has come full circle and has bitten them where it hurts.Recommend

  • Raisani
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:20PM

    Seems retaliation of recent Kabul suicide attacks. Recommend

  • roadkashehzada
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:23PM

    IK is grieved as “He was one of the founding mbrs of PTI & travelled with me in the early days galvanising ppl”
    come on IK, he was a top official of the largest province of pakistan. someone doesnt have to be linked to PTI to be grieved onRecommend

  • Jalal
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:23PM

    Well he got his Mumtaz Qadri. Recommend

  • raider
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:24PM

    first sacrifice from belongings of Taliban apologist group, but that man was not really not at all like his masters who always seek mercy and affection from Taliban. may his soul rest in peace
    Sharif would have been shivering with imaginations of repercussions of mailk ishq killing and operation launched against talibanRecommend

  • Punjabi
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:37PM

    Loss of a great valiant soul. A fearless individual and rightfully named Shuja embraced Shahadat. Intelligence failure of our coveted premium agency and Punjab government who did not put enough police security with him. Allah bless the deceased. Amen. Recommend

  • nadeem
    Aug 16, 2015 - 3:59PM

    So will we now see even more police and guards and resources dedicated to the security of NS and SS, while the lame public can’t even protect itself from child molestors?Recommend

  • Umair
    Aug 16, 2015 - 4:04PM

    If you go by the high value targeting and modes operandi – it is highly likely to be the work of RAW! Recommend

  • Puppet
    Aug 16, 2015 - 4:20PM

    A massive blow. Could be the fall out of action against LeJ. A condemnable act. Ir means terrorists are still surviving. Action needed in cities to root out the pests. He was an outspoken and potent person against these pests. RIP Sir!Recommend

  • Jawed Saleem
    Aug 16, 2015 - 4:21PM

    A soldier don’t want to die without any scars !
    RIP Shuja Khanzada, you and your work made Pakistan proud !Recommend

  • Salman - SK
    Aug 16, 2015 - 4:36PM

    This incident should explain why the PMLN government was reluctant to take any action against the Taliban and other extremist groups for the longest time. It seems the extremists were looking for a soft spot to penetrate and they found one in the regional office of the Home Minister. Unfortunate incident, but should be an eye-opener to prepare for things to come. Obviously, not taking action to eradicate anti-state elements only prolongs the agony and let the disease fester under the radar. Pakistan has some tough decisions to make in front of her. Just statements of condemnation would not suffice.Recommend

  • Last Word
    Aug 16, 2015 - 5:12PM

    RIP. Pakistan needs many more Col Shuja’s to eliminate terrorism in the country. This brave man’s martyrdom will not go in vain if the state continues its crusade against all types of terrorism without differentiating between good and bad.. Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Aug 16, 2015 - 5:42PM

    Very sad but not shocked because reports were pouring in that terrorists were preparing to attack. Its very unwise to think that pause in war is a sign of enemy’s defeat. To eliminate terrorism we have to change our mindset before going after terrorists. Recommend

  • Nadeem Masood Agha
    Aug 16, 2015 - 6:03PM

    Col Shujah Khanzada was a brave soldier who scarified his life for this country.Just to pay tribute to this shaheed is not enough but we should take more strong measures to prevent such incidents in future. Recommend

  • The Dude
    Aug 16, 2015 - 6:45PM

    @Umair.. Your home-grown charity organization LeJ has claimed responsibility and you want to pin this on RAW?
    And you all lament about why your country is globally popular as “terroristan”?Recommend

  • The Dude
    Aug 16, 2015 - 6:49PM

    @MS.. Well.. Isnt the root cause of terrorism in Pakistan RAW/MOSSAD/CIA? These agencies are so jealous of land of pure and its quality of life that they are sponsoring all these outfits in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Brar
    Aug 16, 2015 - 6:59PM

    Bert unfortunate but a comment saying it is the work of RAW is theattacker an Indian or is there any proof to this effect.Recommend

  • Sam
    Aug 16, 2015 - 7:29PM

    Karachi style operation needed in entire Panjab. NS govt have been sheltering these monsters and making deals – you can’t change the nature of a beast by befriending it. It’s time to cull them all. Recommend

  • Jaodat Mand Khan
    Aug 16, 2015 - 7:34PM

    Though these blasts are linked with LeJ but in the past which politician we used to see standing with them in his rallies. Similarly, now he was replaced by Col(R) Shujazada as he proved to be more dedicated/un-biased than him. This seemed to be ending his long control on Punjab rather their (*chottay Mian sahb), and therfore best way is to eliminate him in cowardly manner.Recommend

  • Rex Major
    Aug 16, 2015 - 7:41PM

    @Umair: If you go by the high value targeting and modes operandi – it is highly likely to be the work of RAW!

    This time you even beat the ISPR to it.
    Great and deep understanding of the south Asian situation.Recommend

  • Aug 16, 2015 - 7:51PM

    Lashkare jhangvi sectarian terrorist organization,, hstrong hold in south punjab,, shabaz sharif and various punjab ministers has links with lashkare jhangvi,, especially Rana sanallah punjab minister suppoter and protector of lashkar jhangvi Recommend

  • Aadi
    Aug 16, 2015 - 8:51PM

    It’s time to wipe out the remaining elements of LeJ and its supporters on Facebook and Twitter. Recommend

  • Ali S
    Aug 16, 2015 - 9:26PM

    Inna lillahi wa inna lilaihi rajioon. It shocks me that we can’t even provide basic security to our home minister – two men loaded with explosives strapped onto them would have been unable to pass through basic detector checkpoints (which should be mandatory at all government offices at this point), let alone stand right across the home minister.Recommend

  • Sodomite
    Aug 16, 2015 - 9:43PM

    Where was the Police offering him Protection??? Law Min Sanaullah may have the answer Recommend

  • Muhammad
    Aug 16, 2015 - 10:30PM

    I think if we blame India, Mr khanzada will come back to life.The terrorists are hiding in Israel,trained by cia and funded by mi 5 of England.Papua New guinea could also be involvedRecommend

  • Hisham
    Aug 16, 2015 - 11:59PM

    Shame on pti which is still lobbying for dialouge with talibanRecommend

  • observer
    Aug 17, 2015 - 12:43AM

    When a country practices the policy of encouraging “good” terrorists, this is what will happen. The good terrorists will some day turn into bad terrorists and kill its handler and the hand that feeds it.Recommend

  • Abu Lahab
    Aug 17, 2015 - 12:47AM

    @roadkashehzada: — hurry up please..Recommend

  • PTI supporter
    Aug 17, 2015 - 1:26AM

    Rest in peace. Salute to you. Time to wipe out Lej and it’s cronies. Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Aug 17, 2015 - 2:23AM

    @Umair:
    So just WHEN did RAW start using suicide bombers???
    They must have a great pension plan for such dangerous work, or you are a symptom of the denialism that grips Pakistanis after such attacks!Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2015 - 4:49AM

    Its a so sad and big loss for pml N.but its a failure of government Recommend

  • Snake handler
    Aug 17, 2015 - 4:59AM

    Thats what happens when you sleep with snakes.Recommend

  • Zak
    Aug 17, 2015 - 6:19AM

    Flushing terrorists from Pakistani soil will take many decades. They have a complete infrastructure which has to be destroyed first. Good luck !Recommend

  • Boa
    Aug 17, 2015 - 6:26AM

    @ snake handler thank you very much for your cynism. Please refrain from commenting on sensitive issues if can’t sympathise. Recommend

  • Babloo
    Aug 17, 2015 - 6:46AM

    With such great charity organizations like JuD, LeT, LeJ etc, why should Pakistan need loans and foreign aid ? Its a welfare state run by the ‘charity organizations’.Recommend

  • nk
    Aug 17, 2015 - 8:37AM

    how is it that our useless, no good, money grabbing, immoral, uneducated mna’s and mpa’s who have not done an ounce of good for their constituencies roam around with 3 police cruisers and an armed battalion of guards protecting their every move, and yet somehow so important and vital, someone in such a prominent and exposed position had none of that.

    just goes to show you that the people that actually want to serve their country don’t care about all these extra things. its the ones who are in politics as a business to loot the country want legions of guards surrounding them at all time, because all they want from the state is perks.Recommend

  • Aug 17, 2015 - 10:04AM

    Rana Sanaullah should be investigated!!Recommend

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