Terrorism will not halt Pakistani elections, minister says
Apr 30, 2007 - 7:09:02 PM

Islamabad, April 30 - Terrorist attacks will not be allowed to derail elections due in Pakistan this year, Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao vowed Monday, two days after he survived a bomb attack that killed 29 people at a political rally.

'These sorts of incident are not going to deter us,' Sherpao told journalists in the capital. 'Elections will be held, come what may.'

Pakistan's parliament is expected to re-elect President Pervez Musharraf for a second term in the autumn. A new parliament will be elected by the public shortly after.

Lessons drawn from the bombing in the northwest town of Charsadda would be used to improve security at other rallies and public events, Sherpao said.

The minister, whose elder brother was killed in a bomb attack in 1975 while serving as interior minister, paid tribute to aides, party supporters and police officials who formed a human shield between him and the bomber.

The man was a few feet away when he detonated a Russian-made vest containing six kg of high explosives and packed with metal fragments to maximize casualties.

More than 50 people were injured, including the minister, who received light shrapnel wounds and damage to his hearing. His son, a regional legislator, was also hurt.

'When I got up later there was carnage in front of me, mutilated bodies, and I couldn't see any survivors,' Sherpao said.

The severed heads of two men found at the blast scene were to be reconstructed and shown in newspapers to determine the identity of the attacker or attackers, he said. One is known to belong to the bomber.

There was a 'strong suspicion' that the assassination attempt was ordered by militants in Pakistan's tribal area bordering Afghanistan, Sherpao said.

He cited similarities between the method and equipment used Friday and in other attacks this year that are thought to have emanated from the border region.

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