In a brazen attack, a suicide bomber on Tuesday killed a Pakistani legislator and injured 20 people when the anti-Taliban politician was receiving guests at his house in Swat valley, the latest in a wave of terror strikes in the country's restive northwest.
The suicide attacker detonated his explosives at the guest house of Shamsher Ali Khan, a senior leader of Awami National Party and member of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) assembly, when he was meeting people to exchange Eid greetings.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Malakand range) Idrees Khan said the legislator was killed while one of his brothers was critically injured. The injured were taken to hospitals in Saidu Sharief and Mingora, the main city in Swat.
Doctors said four of the injured are in a serious condition. The attack occurred in Dherai village of Kabal sub-division, located a short distance from the hometown of Maulana Fazlullah, the commander of the Taliban in Swat.
The bomber, who was aged between 20 and 25 years, came to the guest house on foot and blew himself up after getting close to the legislator. Security forces cordoned off the area as investigators scoured the site for evidence. Footage on television showed shoes and clothes strewn all over the site of the blast.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. The suicide attack came after almost a week of calm in NWFP, which has witnessed a series of bombings blamed on the Taliban.
Hundreds of people have died in the attacks that targeted public places, security facilities and the provincial headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The Taliban had recently asked over 50 political leaders and elders, including members of the Awami National Party which rules the NWFP, to leave the Swat valley.
Four pro-government leaders shot dead by militants in NWFP
Meanwhile, four pro-government leaders were on Tuesday shot dead by militants in two separate attacks in Pakistan's restive northwest and the adjoining tribal belt, officials said.
Malik Akbar Khan, the head of a pro-government peace committee of the Mohmand tribal region, was shot dead by militants in Swabi district of North West Frontier Province.
Khan had gone to Swabi for some personal work when he was accosted and killed by the militants, officials said. Ikramullah Mohmand, the Taliban spokesman for Mohmand Agency, claimed responsibility for Khan's killing in phone calls to local journalists.
Khan belonged to Ambar area of Mohmand Agency, where people have formed peace committees to taken on militancy. The Taliban, in turn, have often targeted the peace committees.
Over a dozen members of such committees have been murdered by the local Taliban so far. In Orakzai tribal region, three pro-government tribal elders were killed when militants ambushed their vehicle.
The militants, believed to be local Taliban, sprayed a volley of bullets at the car, killing Malik Gul Haider, Malik Sabz Ali and Malik Mir Aslam Khan instantly, witnesses said. Militants from the Khyber tribal region have taken refuge in Orakzai Agency after security forces launched operations there last week.
Most legislators and parliamentarians fled the area in the wake of the threat. Some of them returned to Swat recently after the army evicted the Taliban from most parts of the valley.