Suicide bomber kills Pakistani provincial law minister, 7 others


By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan, Oct 16 (Reuters) - A suicidebomber killed the law minister of a Pakistani province and sevenothers on Wednesday as the country marked the Muslim festival ofEid al-Adha.

Israr Gandapur was killed in his home as he greetedresidents of his village who had come to celebrate the holiday.

More than 30 people were wounded in the attack includingGandapur's elder brother, said Irfan Mahsud, the assistantcommissioner in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, located nearly 300km (190 miles) southwest of Islamabad.

"I saw so many dead people and injured people crying forhelp," said eyewitness Haseeb Khan, whose new white holidayclothes were drenched in blood.

"There were arms, legs and heads everywhere."

Ansar al Mujahideen, a group allied to but not part of thePakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group's spokesman, Abu Baseer, said it was inretaliation for the deaths of men killed during a July jailbreakin the same city.

He was referring to a major operation by fighters from theal Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban who disguised themselves aspolice and broke 250 prisoners out of a jail.

Gandapur was killed in his home village of Kulachi, about 50km west of Dera Ismail Khan. He was local chief and the lawminister for the northern Khyber Pakutunkhwa province, theheartland of the Taliban.

The province is ruled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, a partyled by former cricketer Imran Khan, which favours peace talkswith the Taliban. Gandapur is the most senior member of theparty to have been killed so far.

The Taliban have said they are open to talks.

But they also say they will not disarm, do not recognise thePakistani constitution, and will not talk to the governmentuntil the army pulls back from their strongholds and all theirprisoners are released.

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