Anti-Taliban politician unhurt after blast in Peshawar, where battle between security forces and extremists has intensified
A suicide bomber has attacked a funeral attended by an anti-Taliban politician in Peshawar, north-west Pakistan, killing at least 13 mourners and wounding 30 others, police said.
The politician, Khush Dil Khan, escaped unhurt in the blast on the outskirts of the city, where Islamist militants are fighting a vicious war against Pakistani security forces. Peshawar is close to the extremist-controlled border regions near Afghanistan, where many hundreds have been killed over the last few years.
Police officer Abid Rehman said the attacker managed to get inside the compound where funeral prayers were being held in Badhber village. He said several of the wounded were in critical condition.
"We are devastated," said Zahir Khan, 32, weeping on his hospital bed. His elder brother died in the attack and they were chatting when the bomb went off. "I never knew I was going to lose my brother forever."
Khan, the politician, comes from the secular-leaning Awami National party that holds power in the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He expressed his party's resolve to continue the struggle against militancy. "It is a fight for the country's survival," he said.
The Pakistani Taliban have targeted several of its leaders in the past. The party has supported various Pakistani military operations against the militants.
On Saturday, security forces claimed to have killed 39 militants in Bara district in the Khyber tribal region, which is close to Peshawar and is the current focus of anti-Taliban operations.
Four security force members were also killed, according to a brief statement from the paramilitary Frontier Corps. The police said it was not yet clear whether the bombing could be a reaction to the latest fighting.