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JUI chief Fazlur Rehman escapes assassination bid

March 31, 2011 01:54 IST

Pakistan's hardline Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman escaped an assassination bid by a suicide bomber, who blew himself up near a police post in the country's restive northwest killing at least 10 people and injuring 18 others.

The bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, detonated his suicide vest minutes after Rehman's motorcade passed the police post in Swabi area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, district administration chief Syed Abdul Jabar Shah told media persons on Wednesday.

A police official was among those killed by the powerful blast.

Most of the dead and injured were JUI supporters who had gathered at the police post to greet Rehman, witnesses said.

The seriously injured persons were taken to a hospital in Peshawar. A JUI spokesman said Rehman,

who had arrived in Swabi to address a public meeting, was safe.

Police said they had found the body parts of the bomber, including his head and legs.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast. The attack surprised political observers, as the JUI is perceived as being pro-Taliban.

Rehman has repeatedly called on the federal government to halt military operations against the militants.

JUI sources said the attack was aimed at targeting party chief Rehman.

District police chief Ijaz Khan said a large police contingent had been deployed in the area to provide security to Rehman.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the blast and described it as an "inhuman act of the militants who have no regard for human lives or religion".

Such acts cannot undermine the government's efforts to wipe out extremism and militancy, he said.