Pak suicide attack: Senior ANP leader among 8 people killed

Bashir Ahmad Bilour

A leading anti-Taliban politician was among eight persons killed today when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a house in Peshawar city where leaders of the Awami National Party were holding a meeting.

Bashir Ahmad Bilour, a senior ANP leader and a Senior Minister of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, succumbed to injuries sustained in the suicide attack, for which the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility.

The bomber struck as Bashir, 69, was leaving the house in the congested Dhaki Nalbandi neighbourhood near Qissa Khwani Bazar this evening.

He was taken to Lady Reading Hospital, where he was declared dead after doctors failed to resuscitate him.

Bilour's personal secretary Haji Noor Mohammed and police officer Abdus Sattar Khan were also killed in the attack, officials said.

Hospital officials said 18 people were injured and several of them were in a serious condition.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed responsibility for the attack during phone calls to journalists in the country's northwest.

He said Bilour was targeted as he was among the government functionaries who spoke out against the Taliban. Ihsan warned that the Taliban would target leaders of the ANP, Pakistan People¿s Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which are partners in the ruling coalition in the centre.

Bilour was a member of a leading political and business family of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province that has had a long association with the secular ANP.

A lawyer by profession, he was a vocal critic and opponent of the Taliban.

He often condemned militants for carrying out bombings and suicide attacks.

Despite being targeted several times by the Taliban, Bilour was invariably among the first government officials to arrive at the site of terror attacks to personally supervise operations.

During an interaction with the media yesterday, Bilour had pledged to continue the campaign against terrorism and extremism.

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