5 killed in bomb blast in northwest Pak

Islamabad: A bomb went off outside the venue of a political rally addressed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti in northwest Pakistan today, killing at least five persons and injuring six more.

The bomb, planted in a motorcycle, was triggered by remote control after the Chief Minister had left the venue in a helicopter with senior leaders of the Awami National Party, which rules Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

No leaders of the ANP were among the casualties, police said. The explosion occurred near a police check post, about 200 yards from the stadium in Nowshera city where the ANP had organised the rally. People were leaving the stadium at the time of the blast.

Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, who was part of the Chief Minister`s team, confirmed three deaths while TV news channels quoted police officials as saying that five persons had died. Several policemen were among the injured.

Besides Chief Minister Hoti and Information Minister Hussain, several other senior ANP leaders, including parliamentarian Afrasiab Khattak and provincial ministers, had attended the rally.

The powerful blast, which was heard from several kilometres away, created panic among the thousands of people present at the stadium. Footage on television showed people, many of them wearing the trademark red caps of the ANP, running helter-skelter as a plume of white smoke rose into the sky.

The mangled and smouldering remains of the motorcycle to which the bomb was attached lay on the road as members of the bomb disposal squad scoured the area for clues.