QUETTA: A suicide bomber tried to kill the top elected official in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan on Tuesday, damaging his motorcade but leaving the minister unhurt, officials said.
One person died in the attack, but his identity was not clear and police said they were investigating whether it was the bomber.
A purported spokesman for banned extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility, saying Raisani had been targeted for efforts to provide security to Shiite Muslims, who are frequently attacked in Balochistan.
“It was a suicide bombing. The convoy of the chief minister was damaged,”Quetta administration official Nasim Lehri told Samaa TV.
“The target was the chief minister, most of those injured were policemen,”he later told AFP.
Raisani, a wealthy Baluch tribal leader who belongs to the federal government’s main ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), was being driven from his home to the provincial assembly.
“The chief minister was the target, but he remained unhurt,” senior police official Salim Lehri told AFP.
“One of the escort cars was damaged and some officials were wounded.”Witnesses said the bomber was on foot and that they heard a loud blast as soon as the motorcade passed, kicking up clouds of dust.
An AFP reporter saw pieces of human flesh on the ground and a damaged white Toyota Landcruiser on the roadside with broken windows and shrapnel holes.
Doctor Noor Mohammad said nine wounded people, including policemen, were brought to hospital and that two were in a serious condition.
The convoy was passing a railway crossing in Saryab Road at the time and an unexploded hand grenade was also found nearby, officials said.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi purportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to the Quetta press club, saying Raisani was targeted for protecting Shiites during the holy month of Muharram, which begins Wednesday.
Police said they were investigating the claim, but Raisani also blamed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and said the attack was a “conspiracy” to antagonise tribes.
The group is regarded as Pakistan’s most extreme Sunni outfit, accused of killing hundreds of Shiite Muslims after its emergence in the early 1990s.
It also played a key role in the 2002 kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl from Karachi and in failed assassination bids on then Pakistani ruler Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.
Raisani was elected unopposed as chief minister of Balochistan in April 2008, after President Asif Ali Zardari’s PPP party won general elections. – AFP