27 die in attack on Pak leader's home

The attack targeted the home of veteran PML-N leader Zulfiqar Khosa and a nearby market in Dera Ghazi Khan town, Deputy Inspector General of Police Mubarak Ali Athar said.

Local Commissioner Hasan Iqbal said witnesses had seen a youth driving the car into the gate of Khosa’s home. He said   body parts, including a hand and a leg, along with pieces of the car used in the attack had been found, pointing to the involvement of a suicide attacker.

Iqbal put the death toll at 27. Five women and two children were among the dead, other officials said. Over 90 people, including two relatives of Khosa, were injured in the blast, which flattened part of his home and eight to 10 shops.

“Apparently, the explosives were loaded in a car (which) hit the gate of my residence in Dera Ghazi Khan,” Khosa, who was in a village near Islamabad at the time of the attack, told reporters.In Dera Ghazi Khan, Khosa said a mosque and several shops near his home were also destroyed in the attack.

Two survivors and three bodies were pulled out of the rubble at the market several hours after the explosion that occurred at about 2.45 pm. Zulfiqar Khosa’s son Dost Muhammad Khosa, a minister in the provincial government of Punjab, said two of his cousins were injured in the attack. Dost Muhammad described the bombing as a “direct attack on his family”.

Zulfiqar Khosa said the attack had come “out of the blue” as he had not received threats from anyone.

The explosion caused a massive crater and blew out the facades of several shops and residential buildings. The blast and debris from buildings damaged several vehicles and heavy machinery had to be brought in to remove the rubble.

Mobile phone footage aired on television showed panic-stricken people running helter-skelter moments after the blast as a plume of smoke rose into the sky.
Militants arrested

Meanwhile, 17 militants were apprehended by troops during search operations in different parts of Swat. The security forces also recovered a cache of arms and ammunition while four militants surrendered at Shahdand Banda and Bara Banda. In South Waziristan, a cache of arms and ammunition was seized and two suspects were captured when security forces cleared several areas in Jandola sector.

Troops also sanitised several areas and consolidated their positions in Shakai sector. During a search operation in Razmak sector, soldiers found and destroyed 37 militant-held compounds and two tunnels, the military said.

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