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South Asia

Taliban suicide bomb attack kills provincial minister

Taliban Islamic militants have bombed a political rally in Pakistan's northern city of Peshawar, killing at least eight people. The target of the attack, a provincial minister, was also killed.

A suicide bomber attacked a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP) on Saturday in the northern city of Peshawar, killing at least eight people and wounding a dozen more.

The target of the attack was the local provincial minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour, who suffered fatal wounds to the chest and later died in the hospital, health authorities said.

The ANP is a secular group that strongly opposes the Islamist insurgency.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack - the third against Bilour - claiming that the ANP is a primary target.

"The suicide bomber walked into the house where the meeting was taking place and detonated his vest," Shafqat Malik, chief of the bomb disposal squad, told the news agency AFP.

Condolences poured in from many political parties, which described Bilour as a man who always stood up against Islamic extremism.

In a message broadcast on the state-run Pakistan Television, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf paid tribute to Bilour's services and reiterated the resolve to rid the country of militancy.

"I can say with full confidence that the Pakistani nation will win this war [against terrorism]."

Ashraf declared a national day of mourning on Sunday for the "martyrdom of Bashir Ahmad Bilour."

hc,jr/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)