The home minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province was assassinated when a suicide bomber targeted his farmhouse on Sunday, killing 12 people and injuring more than 20 others.
Home minister Shuja Khanzada was holding a ‘jirga’ at his farmhouse at Shadi Khan in Attock district, 100 km from Islamabad, to address the problems of people of his constituency when the bomber struck. More than 50 people were present at the gathering.
Khanzada, a former colonel of the Pakistan Army, was seriously injured when the roof of the building collapsed. Saeed Elahi, advisor to the chief minister of Punjab, confirmed Khanzada’s death and told state-run Radio Pakistan that his body was retrieved from the debris.
Twelve people were killed and more than 20 others injured, Radio Pakistan reported. A senior police official was among the dead. About three dozen people were buried under the rubble.
Police, a bomb disposal squad, rescue workers and a quick response team of the army were engaged in rescue operations at the site.
Dawn.com quoted sources in the interior ministry as saying that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) was behind the suicide attack. The sources said Khanzada had been facing threats since LeJ chief Malik Ishaq was gunned down by police last month.
“The hall of the building where the meeting was underway collapsed in the blast and over three dozen people, including the minister, were trapped in the rubble," Punjab’s law minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters.
Sanaullah said the war against terrorism will continue till the elimination of the last terrorist.
Khanzada was given charge of the home department in October last year and had spearheaded a drive against notorious sectarian groups such as the LeJ. He earlier served as advisor to Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Prime Minister Sharif and interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the terrorist attack.