Suicide blast kills Pakistani provincial minister

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A suicide bomber killed at least eight people including a provincial law minister after breaking into his home in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, officials said.

Israr Ullah Gandapur, law minister for the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was meeting constituents in his home village of Kulachi when the bomber struck, provincial health minister Shaukat Yousafzai told AFP.

More than 25 people were also wounded in the attack, which occurred on the first day of the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, he added.

Mohammad Yousaf Khan, a police official in area told AFP: “I am on the site and I have seen his dead body.”

Yousafzai, the health minister, said the suicide bomber had managed to break into the area despite “very tight security”.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which involved 8-10 kilograms of locally made explosive, Inayat Ullah, a bomb disposal expert, told AFP.

“We have recovered two legs of the bomber,” he added.

Gandapur won his seat as an independent from the village of Kulachi, near the city of Dera Ismail Khan, which borders the country’s lawless tribal regions where the Taliban and Al-Qaeda have carved out strongholds.

He later joined cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which finished third in the national polls held in May but won power in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Gandapur is now the third lawmaker from the province to have been killed following the elections on May 11.

Farid Khan and Imran Khan Mohmand, killed in separate attacks in June, were also members of the PTI party, which promised to pursue dialogue with the Taliban rather than back military operations like its predecessors.

The main Pakistani political parties including PTI last month backed a government proposal to formally seek negotiations with the militants, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the state since 2007.

Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud last week said he was still open to peace talks, but that the government has not taken any serious steps to start dialogue.

Mehsud, who has a $5 million US government bounty on his head, said he would continue to target the United States and its allies and reiterated the demand that any ceasefire in Pakistan must include an end to U.S. drone strikes.

The umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction has announced preconditions for talks on ending an insurgency, including a government ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from the tribal areas along the Afghan border where the militants have hideouts.

But ongoing violence, including a recent wave of bombings in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed more than 140 people within a week, has prompted many to question the proposed negotiations.

The TTP, a loose coalition of militant groups led by Mehsud since 2009, is blamed for killing thousands of people in its war against the Pakistani state in recent years.