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Anti-Taliban minister among 15 killed in Pakistan suicide attack

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Islamabad: At least 15 people, including home minister of Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, were killed and 23 others injured in a suicide attack that destroyed a political camp in Attock district on Sunday, officials said.

Spokesperson of the rescue department Deeba Shehnaz said that 15 bodies were shifted to hospital while two of the injured were in critical condition and were undergoing treatment in the intensive care unit, Pakistani media reported.

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest when Home Minister Shuja Khanzada was hearing complaints from residents in his native village Shadi Khan, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

“There were two suicide bombers, one stood outside the boundary wall and the second one went inside and stood in front of the minister,” Punjab Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera told reporters.

“The blast by the bomber standing outside ripped the wall which caused the roof to collapse on the minister and the people gathered there,” he said.

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Image Source: www.dailymail.co.uk

The roof of the camp collapsed and the whole building was leveled to the ground due to the impact of the explosion.

Police, security forces and rescue teams rushed to the site and took out the bodies and injured from the debris.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Shaukat Shah, who was present at the camp to look after the security of the minister, was also killed in the attack.

According to police officials, at least 100 people were present at Khanzada’s office and many of them were buried underneath the rubble.

The minister had reportedly received threat calls from terror organisations since the launch of the targeted operation against the terrorists in the province over the past eight months.

A retired army officer-turned-politician, Khanzada was given charge of the province’s home department in October last year and had successfully set up an anti-terrorism squad that was conducting major operations against terror outfits in the province — Pakistan’s most populous.

According to interior ministry sources, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban splinter group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility for the audacious suicide attack.

The group’s spokesperson was quoted as saying that the attack on Khanzada was to avenge the killing of their chief Malik Ishaq in a police encounter on July 29.

Ishaq, along with his two sons and 11 others, was killed in a police operation in Punjab’s Muzaffargarh district.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan and Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa condemned the blast and expressed condolences and sympathies with the families of the deceased persons.

(IANS)

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Fight Against Terrorism: Iran, Pakistan Agree To Set Up Joint Border ‘Reaction Force’

Stressing that "no third country" could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.

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Iranian President Hassan Rohani (left) and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan reviewing an honor guard in Tehran on April 22. RFERL

Iranian President Hassan Rohani and visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan have agreed to set up a joint border “reaction force” to counter terrorism, Iranian state media reported.

“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day.

The announcement comes following tensions between the two countries who have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

“Pakistan will not allow any militant group to operate” from its soil, Khan said at the press conference while adding that the problem of terrorism was “increasing differences” between both countries.

“So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue,” Khan said.

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The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month. Pixabay

Citing a militant attack on Pakistani security forces in Baluchistan on April 18, he said, Pakistan’s security chief will be meeting his Iranian counterpart on April 22 to discuss how both countries can cooperate in not allowing their soil to be used by militant groups.

Stressing that “no third country” could harm Iran-Pakistan ties, an apparent reference to the United States, Rohani said Tehran was ready to boost trade and business ties with Islamabad.

For his part, Khan said his visit to Tehran aimed to “find ways to increase trade and cooperation…in energy and other areas,” noting that two-way trade was “very limited.”

Khan arrived in Iran on April 21 on his first official visit to the Islamic republic for talks set to focus on strengthening bilateral ties, “fighting terrorism, and safeguarding borders,” Iranian state media reported.

The two countries have in recent months accused each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.

The two-day trip started with a stopover in the holy city of Mashhad, where Khan visited the shrine of Imam Reza, who is revered by Shi’ite Muslims.

The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on April 20 that 15 gunmen wearing military uniforms ambushed a bus in southwestern Balochistan Province on April 18, killing 14 Pakistani Army personnel.

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“We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,” Rohani was quoted as saying on April 22 during a joint press conference with Khan, who was officially welcomed in the Iranian capital earlier in the day. Pixabay

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government that the assailants came from an alliance of three Baluch terrorist organizations based in Iran.

Qureshi told reporters that Khan would take up the matter with Iranian authorities.

Earlier this year, Iran called on Pakistan to take action against a militant group behind a deadly attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Also Read: Measles Could be Completely Wiped Off, Instead it’s Making a Comeback

Twenty-seven IRGC members were killed in the February suicide car bombing near the border with Pakistan.

The Sunni Muslim extremist group Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack in southeastern Iran. (RFERL)