January 12

Attack on aide of Pakistani prime minister kills 5

Amir Muqam is not hurt in the bomb attack.

By Sherin Zada
The Associated Press

MINGORA, Pakistan — A bomb attack targeting an aide of the Pakistan’s prime minister killed five people in the country’s north Sunday, police said, though the official escaped unharmed.

Hours later, gunmen shot and killed a secular anti-Taliban politician and his two aides on the outskirts of northwestern city of Peshawar, police said.

The two bombs exploded in the Shangla area near the convoy of Amir Muqam, a Cabinet aide and former parliamentarian, Deputy Inspector General Abdullah Khan said. While Muqam wasn’t hurt, the blast killed two police officers and three of his private guards, Khan said. He said it was not clear whether both or one of them were suicide attacks.

Muqam told private television station Geo News that it was the sixth such attack against him in recent years. He didn’t name the militants directly but said that “the terrorists” wouldn’t win. “Such attacks can’t stop me from siding with the truth,” he said.

Shangla is part of the Swat Valley, which local Taliban militants captured before an army offensive drove them out in 2009. The militants have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians, security forces and government officials in a campaign of bombings and gun attacks they hope will bring down the state and allow them to impose their own extreme interpretation of Islamic law.

The ruling party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has favored peace negotiations with the militants since he assumed office in mid-2013. The Taliban had agreed to talks under strict preconditions but rejected them after a U.S. missile strike killed their leader.

For Sharif’s pro-negotiations stance, the militants spared his party in the election campaign rallies, but attacked leaders and workers of secular anti-Taliban political parties, including Awami National Party. That’s a coalition partner of country’s outgoing ruling party of former President Asif Ali Zardari, who supported the military offensive against the militants.

On Sunday, two gunmen riding a motorcycle shot and killed a provincial leader of the secular party, Mian Mohammad Mushtaq, and his two aides on Peshawar’s outskirts, police official Rahim Shah said. The Taliban attacks have killed hundreds of the party’s workers in recent years.

There has been a relative lull in militant attacks recently in Pakistan. The most recent one was on Jan. 9, when a suicide car bomber in Karachi killed the head of the southern city’s anti-terrorism police unit, known for hunting down militants.

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