Shuja Khanzada, the home minister for the Pakistan province of Punjab, has been killed in suicide bombing at his farmhouse along with 11 others, according to officials for the region. It is believed that Khanzada was conducting a "jirga" or tribal council with more than 50 people in attendance at Shadi Khan in the Attock district when the attack was launched by an unknown assailant.
Khanzada, who was previously a colonel of the Pakistan Army, was seriously injured when the roof of the building collapsed onto the gathering. Advisor to the chief minister of Punjab, Saeed Elahi, confirmed his death to state broadcaster Radio Pakistan and said that his body had been pulled from the rubble.
According to Radio Pakistan 12 people were killed and 25 were injured in the blast, with a senior police officer among the dead at the farmhouse. The police authorities rescue workers and an army bomb disposal squad were all dispatched to the scene.
Local news sources blamed the fatal attack on the banned rebel group banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). It is understood that Khanzada had been facing threats ever since LeJ chief Malik Ishaq was gunned down by police last month.
Khanzada took up his position of home minister in October 2014 and had been active in targeting sectarian groups including the LeJ. Prior to his appointment, he was an advisor to Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who has condemned the attack.
Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan was one of the first to pay tribute to Khanzada. Taking to his Twitter account, he said: "Grieved to learn of Shuja Khanzada's martyrdom. He was one of the founding members of PTI [the political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf] and travelled with me in the early days galvanising people."
Grieved to learn of Shuja Khanzada's martyrdom. He was one of the founding mbrs of PTI & travelled with me in the early days galvanising ppl
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 16, 2015