World Bulletin/News Desk
A prominent leader of Pakistan's ethnic Hazara minority narrowly escaped a suicide attack that killed six people on Tuesday, in the run-up to next month's general elections.
The blast in Quetta was the worst attack since a series of bombings in the city at the start of the year killed almost 200 people, briefly drawing global attention to a growing campaign of persecution of the Hazaras.
Khaliq Hazara, the chairman of the Hazara Democratic Party, the main Hazara political organisation, said the blast occurred shortly after he had finished addressing a small outdoor election meeting in a Hazara enclave in the east of the city.
"I was doing my campaigning in my own community," Hazara told Reuters. "The government should give us security."
Hazara, who is running for a National Assembly seat at the May 11 elections, said he suspected the bomber intended to kill him and his advisers. "We were the target," he said.
LEJ's spokesman claimed responsibility for the blast via telephone from an undisclosed location, though he did not specify whether the HDP leader was the target.
The HDP is a secular party that has emerged to press Pakistan's government to take greater action to protect Hazaras from attacks that have killed hundreds of people in Quetta in recent years. The party's previous chairman was shot dead in the city in 2009.
The car bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle after being stopped at a nearby checkpoint manned by the paramilitary Frontier Corps, according to a security official. He said a member of the force was among the dead.
The blast occurred shortly after three smaller, hidden bombs exploded at various locations in the city, wounding nine people, police said.
In a separate attack on Tuesday, a bomb exploded in the commercial capital Karachi near a gathering of activists of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), the dominant political party in the city. Police said two people were killed.
Last Mod: 24 Nisan 2013, 10:10