Islamabad: Pakistan’s Punjab province Home Minister Shuja Khanzada was among 12 people killed on Sunday in a suicide bomb attack which destroyed his office in Attock city, authorities said.
Khanzada, a retired colonel of the Pakistan Army, succumbed to serious injuries he suffered after being buried under the rubble of the building, Punjab chief minister’s advisor Syeed Ilahi told Geo TV.
According to interior ministry sources, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban splinter group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the audacious suicide attack.
It was not immediately clear how many attackers were involved and how the explosion occurred.
At least 100 people were estimated to have been in attendance at the Jirga (community council meeting) being held at Khanzada’s political office.
Khanzada, who was given charge of the home ministry in October last year, was facing death threats since the killing of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq in July.
The powerful explosion brought down the minister’s office, trapping 20-50 people including the minister. Khanzada’s son Sohrab said his father was in the office when the blast took place.
A number of bodies were pulled out of the rubble.
The minister was actively involved in major operations against terrorist groups. His department is responsible for the maintenance of law and order in Pakistan’s most populous province.
Rescue operations were underway at the scene of the attack, media reports said. Helicopters had been pressed into service to ferry the injured to hospital.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa condemned the terror attack.
Bajwa said the attack would not deter the national resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism, and lauded Khanzada as a bold officer.