| Shaukat Aziz at a by-election rally in Fateh Jang town. (Reuters)
Islamabad, July 30: Five persons were killed and 25 injured today in a suicide attack on Prime Minister-designate Shaukat Aziz in Fateh Jang town in the central province of Punjab.
Those killed include Aziz’s driver and the suicide bomber. Aziz was campaigning in Fateh Jang for a by-election when the attack took place.
Confirming the bombing, ruling Pakistan Muslim League secretary-general Mushahid Hussein Syed said: “Aziz has now returned to Islamabad and is safe and sound.”
“People involved in today’s attack are those who had tried to kill President Pervez Musharraf in December last year,” Syed said when asked who may have carried out the attack.
Aziz, 55 and currently finance minister, sat in the rear of his bullet-proof Mercedes car after a campaign meeting when a suicide bomber set off an explosion alongside the vehicle.
Later, Aziz told the state-run Pakistan Television that this was a “tragic” incident which has claimed many lives. “But it has reinforced my resolve to serve Pakistan and the Islamic world,” he added.
The attempt on Aziz’s life follows two assassination bids on President Pervez Musharraf last December, which were blamed on Pakistani militants linked to al Qaida. Tahir Sadiq, the mayor of Attock, was travelling in the same car with Aziz.
The attack took place immediately after a political meeting on open ground close to a railway track near a village called Jafarmore in the Fateh Jung constituency.
“He (Aziz) sat in the rear of his car, behind the driver and they were just about to move off when a bearded man of about 30 approached and when he came in contact with the driver’s door he blew himself up,” Syed said.
The head and a hand, that police say belonged to the bomber, was still lying at the scene of the blast along with the body of the dead driver in Aziz’s damaged black Mercedes and another white Toyota with bloodstains on its windows. Aziz was described by Syed as “calm, cool and composed” after his narrow escape.
Shaukat Aziz is contesting the National Assembly by-election from two constituencies in Punjab and Sindh.