28 killed in Pakistan bombing, Minister Sherpao injured
Apr 28, 2007 - 11:36:25 PM

Islamabad, April 28 - A suicide bomber killed at least 28 people and injured many including Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao at a rally in the North West Frontier Province, police said.

The blast occurred at a meeting in Charsadda town, 135 km from here, immediately after Sherpao concluded his speech. He was taken to hospital in nearby Peshawar with minor injuries, said Mohammed Khan, an official.

Initial reports from the meeting had said both Sherpao and his son Sikander Sherpao, a member of the provincial assembly, had been critically wounded.

Bacha Gul Wazir, the province's home secretary, said he had seen blood on the minister's face but he did not know if the minister was himself bleeding.

The province lies on Pakistan's troubled border with Afghanistan.

Sherpao, 63, who heads the Pakistan People's Party -, is a key figure in the efforts to fight terrorism and religious extremism, particularly in the NWFP and Balochistan.

The province's Inspector General of Police Mohammed Sharif Virk confirmed the 15 deaths in the Charsaddah rally. The figure has gone up subsequently with more information coming in.

Jahanzeb Khan, political secretary of Sikandar Sherpao, succumbed to his injuries.

The bomber was suspected to be an Afghan national whose identify could not be established.

Virk said the attacker could be an Afghani, as an Afghani's head was found on the spot of incident.

Militancy-related violence involving foreign Islamist mercenaries is a frequent occurrence in Pakistan. There have been suicide attacks at the Islamabad International Airport in January.

Saturday witnessed a fire, suspected to be an act of militants, at the Peshawar Airport, delaying international flights.

There have been at least three known attempts on the life of President Pervez Musharraf. He narrowly escaped injury in two bombings that claimed 17 lives in Rawalpindi in December 2003.

In July 2004, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz survived a suicide bombing as he was campaigning for a by-election west of this capital. Eight people were killed in the incident.

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