Two suicide bombers die in botched Pakistan attack

KARACHI – Two suspected suicide bombers were killed in Pakistan’s central Punjab province early on Sunday when the devices they were carrying exploded prematurely in an apparent botched attack on a former minister, police said.

The blast in Haroonabad, in southern Punjab, comes just days after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was slain in a suicide attack, triggering widespread violence that has killed at least 44 people.

Police said they believed Mohammad Ejaz-ul-Haq, a former religious affairs minister in President Pervez Musharraf’s government who had earlier been staying at a house 200 meters (yards) away from the site of the blast, was the intended target.

“My guess is that they were there to target Mister Ejaz-ul-Haq who visited the area a day earlier,” Zafar Abbas, district police officer in nearby Bhawalnagar, told Reuters by telephone. Haq had already left the area before the incident.

Police found scattered body parts and the wreckage of a motorcycle at the scene of the blast, and suspect they either met an accident or fell from the bike, detonating the explosives.

“We have retrieved two heads, which are badly mutilated and cannot be identified. One appeared to be in his early 40s while the other is a younger one,” said another police officer.

Haq is the son of late former military ruler General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, who executed Bhutto’s father, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979.

Ul-Haq had been identified as a possible militant target after a suicide attack on former interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao last week that killed more than 50 people.

Police said some religious elements at a nearby mosque had chanted slogans against Ul-Haq and Musharraf’s former government over a military assault on a Taliban-style movement at Red Mosque in Islamabad in July, which triggered a wave of suicide bombings.

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