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A suicide bomb in Pakistan’s turbulent northwest apparently targeting a prominent Islamist politician killed at least 10 people Thursday when it hit the politician's convoy, but failed to hit the politician himself. While police identified the bomber as a local student, the killed politician's party leadership pointed the finger at the US and at the Pakistani government.
The attack, which killed police and companions of the party leader and cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman, but did no harm to him, was the second time that the hard-line Islamist Jamiat-e-ulema-e-Islam – Fazl (JUI-F) party came under attack in two days, Reuters notes. The first attack killed 12 people at a JUI gathering in the northwest town of Peshawar before Mr. Rehman arrived. While the BBC describes his party as close to militant organizations, Reuters says that Rehman is a “firebrand” critic of the US-Pakistani government alliance to fight terrorism, but is still wary of militant violence.
Today’s bomb exploded near Rehman’s car in the town of Charsadda when the leader was on his way to attend a public gathering. Pakistan’s The News reported that police had found remains of the suicide bomber and his student card identified him as a local resident.
At a rally after the attack, the JUI Secretary General Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri blamed the CIA and Blackwater for the attack, as well as Pakistan’s government for giving them "free reign" in the northwest. He accused the Pakistani government of giving free reign to US agents to target local leaders who speak out against the CIA’s drone program and said the JUI-F would hold protests on Friday to condemn the two recent attacks, according to the Pakistani newspaper The Dawn.
Awareness of covert US work in the country has been heightened lately because of the recent furor over CIA contractor Raymond Davis, who was working under the guise of being a low-level US embassy employee when he killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in what he says was self-defense. Mr. Davis was was put in Pakistani custody but was released in mid-March, possibly after the US government paid "blood money" to have him freed.
After the second attack, Rehman went forward with a planned public meeting at the playground of a public high school and criticized the local government for not protecting them, The Dawn reported:
“We ask the government why it failed to make adequate security arrangements and why security was not provided to our workers,” he questioned.
He said that they would continue their struggle despite such incidents. No one could stop them from marching towards their destination, he said. He alleged that America was a terrorist state and its policies were based on terrorism. He said that supporters of American policies were also terrorists.
He said that war on terror was not their war. “It is American war, which is fought on the soil of Pakhtuns. We oppose this war as killing of Pakhtuns is not acceptable to us,” he said. He said that government should change its policies.