Punjab Home Minister among 17 killed in suicide blast near Attock

ATTOCK: Punjab Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada was among 17 people killed and 20 others injured in a suicide bomb blast that occurred in his native village in Attock district on Sunday.

A jirga was underway at Khanzada’s political office in Shadi Khan village when a suicide attack took place. The blast demolished the roof of the building in which the provincial home minister and 25 others trapped under the debris. DSP Syed Shaukat Shah was also among the dead. The blast was so strong that it shattered windows of nearby houses.

About over 50 people were attending the jirga at Khanzada’s political office. The panic gripped the area. Hospitals in Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been put on high alert. Adviser to Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif, Dr Saeed Elahi, confirmed Khanzada’s death.

Police said the blast appeared to be a large bomb, and it had caused the roof to cave in as Khanzada held meetings with supporters in his hometown of Attock. Khanzada was trapped under the rubble along with dozens of others as the entire structure of his office building collapsed.

Punjab government has announced to observe three-day mourning over a deadly attack that killed home minister Shuja Khanzada and 14 others.

Shuja Khanzada was given charge of the home department in October 2014 and had been actively involved in major operations against terror outfits.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have strongly condemned the terrorist attack. The premier reaffirmed the commitment and determination of the government for pursuing the National Action Plan against terrorism with full force and directed for pre-emptive security strategy to counter terrorist planning. PM Nawaz urged law enforcement agencies to not lower their guards till the elimination of the last terrorist.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has expressed grief over Shuja Khanzada’s death. PPP leader and Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister Sharmila Farooqi have expressed heartfelt condolences over the killing of people in the suicide attack. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party has strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Dera of Punjab Home Minister Shuja Khanzada in Attock this morning and stressed on unity for the final blow to the scourge of terrorism in the country.

In a press statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that coward attacks cannot lower the high morale of the nation as entire country has risen up against the bloodshed and terrorism. He prayed for those lost their lives in the Attock attack and for early recovery of those injured.