Punjab home minister Colonel (retd) Shuja Khanzada was killed in a suicide attack on his political office in Shadi Khan village. His death was confirmed by Dr Syed Elahi, adviser to the chief minister of Punjab.
Several others died in the bomb blast. The impact of the explosion caused the roof of the building to collapse, and shattered windows in nearby houses.Between 50-100 people were estimated to have been in attendance at the jirga being held at Khanzada’s political office. Many of them were buried underneath the wreckage as the entire structure had been razed to the ground by the explosion.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Hazro Syed Shoukat Shah was among the dead recovered from the site. Ten other policemen who are yet to be rescued were present at the scene when the blast occurred.
Sources in the interior ministry claim that banned outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) has taken responsibility of the suicide attack on Khanzada. They alleged Khanzada was under threat following the killing of LeJ chief Malik Ishaq in July.
The Rawalpindi regional police officer confirmed the attack was a suicide blast.
Shuja Khanzada was given charge of the home department in October 2014 and had been actively involved in major operations against terror outfits. The provincial department he headed was responsible for the maintenance of law and order, and protection of life and property of citizens. He had previously held positions as Provincial Minister Punjab and Advisor to the Chief Minister Punjab.
Rescue operations are still underway at the scene of the attack.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the terrorist attack. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan similarly condemned the incident and directed federal and provincial institutions to carry out immediate rescue activities.
Earlier this year, Khanzada had said the Punjab government received threat alerts for airports, prisons, schools and sensitive installations, besides targeted killing of known personalities and kidnap for ransom.
The minister had said all banned organisations had been stopped from operating, and lists of NGOs and seminaries working against “national interests”, as well as a person delivering provocative speeches, had also been prepared and action would be taken against them on “solid evidence”.- Agencies