Aftermath of the assassination attempt in Charsadda. Photo from Geo TV.
A suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis during an assassination attempt on the leader a secular Pashtun political party. The bomber targeted Asfandyar Wali Khan, the chief of the Awami National Party, in his home in the settled district of Charsadda in the turbulent Northwest Frontier Province.
The attack occurred as Khan was hosting celebrations in a guesthouse next to his home for Eid-ul-Fitr, the holiday at the end of Ramadan. The suicide bomber was shot by security guards as he attempted to reach Khan.
“The suicide bomber tried to pass from the security scanner avoiding a physical search. Two security guards grabbed him but he tried to get away,” Provincial police chief Malik Naveed told Geo TV. “Then he was shot and as soon as he fell on the ground he blew himself up.”
The Awami National Party is an ethnic Pashtun political party that controls the government Northwest Frontier Province after the February 2008 election. The party is opposed to military action against the Taliban and advocates a peaceful end to the fighting in Pakistan’s northwest. The party has backed peace agreements with the Taliban in the past.
The Awami National Party has been the target of multiple Taliban attacks over the past year. The Taliban conducted two major strikes against ANP offices in North Waziristan and Kurram the week before the election, killing and wounding scores of its members.
The Taliban have conducted attacks during religious events and in mosques up and down the Northwest Frontier Province over the past year. The most high-profile attack occurred on Dec. 28, 2007, in Charsadda, when a suicide bomber detonated in a mosque in an attempt to kill former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao as he conducted Eid prayers. More than 50 were killed and scores were wounded.
Recently, the Taliban bombed a mosque in Dir, killing 25 and wounding more than 50. The Taliban targeted a tribe that was organizing local security to eject the extremists from the region.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.