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Police: Suicide attack kills at least 50 at home of Pakistan's former interior minister

Police: Suicide attack kills at least 50 at home of Pakistan's former interior minister

Pakistani police raided an Islamic school and arrested seven students, hours after a suicide bomber killed at least 50 people inside a mosque packed with holiday worshippers at the home of the former interior minister, police said.
Friday's bombing, which left bloody clothes, shoes and pieces of flesh scattered across the house of worship, was the second suicide attack in eight months apparently targeting Aftab Khan Sherpao, who escaped injury.
Suspicion for the blast was expected to focus on the pro-Taliban or al-Qaida militants active in northwest Pakistan _ near the Afghan border _ where the attack occurred. As interior minister, Sherpao was deeply involved in Pakistan's efforts to combat the Taliban and drive out al-Qaida.
President Pervez Musharraf condemned the blast and directed security and intelligence agencies to track down the masterminds, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack.
After the bombing, dozens of police and intelligence agents raided an Islamic school in the nearby village of Turangzai and arrested seven students, some of them Afghans, two police officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. The officials declined to say whether the raid was connected to the attack.
The blast deepened the sense of uncertainty in Pakistan ahead of Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, which Sherpao, as head of the Pakistan Peoples Party-Sherpao, is contesting.
The bombing turned a prayer service crowded with hundreds of people celebrating the Islamic holy day of Eid al-Adha into a scene of carnage at the mosque inside Sherpao's residential compound in Sherpao, a village 40 kilometers (25 miles) northeast of the city of Peshawar.
The bomber was in a row of worshippers when he detonated the explosive, provincial police chief Sharif Virk said.
"There was blood and body parts everywhere. There was panic everywhere. People were running. Some people were injured in the chaos," said Iqbal Hussain, a police officer in charge of security at the mosque.
District mayor Farman Ali Khan said between 50 and 55 people were killed, and authorities were collecting information on their identities. Local police chief Feroz Shah said more than 100 were wounded.
Witnesses said the dead included police officers guarding Sherpao, who was praying in the mosque's front row at the time of the attack. He was not harmed, but one of his sons was wounded.
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Sadaqat Jan contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.


Updated : 2021-04-15 07:41 GMT+08:00