BATGRAM, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up as he was being searched at a political rally in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, killing seven people, including a 9-month-old girl, officials said.
The rally was organized by Ameer Muqam, a senior member of thePakistan Muslim League-Q party, but he had not yet arrived when the blast went off.
“Such attacks are deplorable, but they cannot deter us from public service,” Muqam said after the blast.
The bomber detonated his explosives as he was being searched at the entrance of the rally, said Ghulam Hussain, the police chief in Batgram district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the attack occurred.
Junaid Raza, 13, said he saw police in a brawl with the bomber, who was hurling threats at the officers. The bomber freed himself from the police and detonated himself while running toward the rally, the witness said.
“It terrorized me,” he told The Associated Press. “I saw smoke everywhere. I ran away.”
About 6,000 people were at the rally at the time of the attack, said Hussain, the police chief.
Police found the remains of the suicide attacker, including a severed hand that was carrying a pistol, Hussain added.
The dead included a 9-month-old girl who was being carried by her mother when the blast went off, said Hussain. The mother was wounded and died later in a hospital, he said. The seven dead also included two police officials and two other men, said Mahboobur Rehman, the top official at Batgram hospital. Twenty-six people were wounded, he said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the Pakistani Taliban have often targeted Pakistani officials and security forces in their quest to topple the U.S.-allied government in Pakistan.
Also Monday, a gunman riding a motorcycle near Quetta, the capital of southwestern Baluchistan province, opened fire on a tanker truck carrying oil to NATO troops in Afghanistan, killing the driver and his assistant, said area police chief Mir Dashti Khan. The assailant set the tanker on fire, he said.
A large percentage of non-lethal goods destined for NATO troops in Afghanistan are shipped through Pakistan. The supply trucks often come under attack by militants and criminals.
A separate attack Monday by a gunman on a motorcycle in the Mastung area of Baluchistan killed one police official and wounded another, said police officer Mohammad Ismail.
Baluchistan is home to a long-running insurgency by nationalists who demand a greater share of the area’s natural resources.
An accidental blast at an ammunition depot near Islamabad on Monday killed one Pakistani soldier and wounded three others, said the military in a statement.
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