By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD
DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — A suicide bomber shot his way into the residence of a provincial government minister Wednesday in northwestern Pakistan, killing the official and seven others in an explosion, police said.
The blast near the town of Dera Ismail Khan also wounded more than 30 people, senior police officer Mohammad Jan said. The minister of law for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Israullah Gandapur, was meeting with people at his house to celebrate the Muslim Eid holiday when the bomber struck, Jan said.
The attacker first shot dead the guard at the house before blowing himself inside the guest room of the minister’s residence, the officer said. The minister died on the way to the hospital.
The suicide bomber got very close to the minister before the blast and carried about 17 pounds of explosives on his body, Jan said.
Hameedullah Khan, an aide to the slain minister, said there were about 50 people in the room at the time of the explosion.
“Some were enjoying tea and sweets, others were meeting and greeting,” Khan said. “I was meeting with the minister’s brother Ikramullah when suddenly there was a big bang followed by smoke, (the) explosive’s smell and noise of crying people.”
Khan said the blast knocked him senseless until he saw the minister lying in a pool of blood with others. Khan suffered minor injuries. The minister’s brother, also wounded in the blast, was in stable condition, Khan said.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion likely will fall on the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. The Taliban repeatedly have targeted government officials and security personnel, as well as civilians.
Gandapur was elected to the provincial assembly in May as independent. He later joined the ruling provincial party led by former cricket star Imran Khan and became law minister. He oversaw the office tasked with drafting provincial laws.
Khan has been a strong proponent of peace talks with the Taliban, but several officials from his party have been killed in attacks since the May election.