Pakistan: second suicide bomber targets hardline Islamist politician (VIDEO)

Pakistani volunteers and local residents shift victim of a suicide attack targeting an Islamic party chief, Fazal Ur Rehman, to a hospital in Peshawar on March 31, 2011.


Hasham Ahmed

At least 13 people were killed in a second suicide bomb attack targeting a hardline Islamist politician in as many days, according to reports.

Fazal Ur Rehman, the head of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam, a former coalition partner of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was headed to a rally in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province when a man walked up to his convoy and blew himself up, CNN reported.

The blast wounded 16 others, but Rehman said he was unharmed.

The suicide attack came a day after 12 people were killed when a suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up at another political rally where Rehman was scheduled to speak.

Rehman reportedly said he had not received any threats and did know who was targeting him. 

A former leader of the opposition in Pakistan's National Assembly, Rehman has been a consistent supporter of upholding Islamic laws in Pakistan, including the country's controversial blasphemy laws, which make it a crime punishable by death to utter any derogatory remarks about, or insult in any way, the prophet Muhammad, the Koran or Islam. He has also been a constant critic of U.S. and NATO drone attacks on militants in the country's tribal areas close to the Afghan border, according to the Telegraph.

Moulana Amjad Khan, a spokesman for Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam, said this week's rallies were the latest in a series to protest against un-Islamic laws in the country, notably the blasphemy law that has been at the center of the recent assassinations of top Pakistani officials who had opposed it. 

On Jan. 4, Punjab governor Salman Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad by Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, a 26-year-old police commando assigned to guard him. Qadri admitted killing Taseer because of Taseer's opposition to the blasphemy law. And on March 2, gunmen killed Pakistan's only Christian cabinet member, Shahbaz Bhatti, outside his house in Islamabad.


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Tagged: Pakistan.