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Published: Monday, 11/26/2012

Pakistani TV anchor survives attempted bombing

ASSOCIATED PRESS

ISLAMABAD  — Police on Monday found and defused a bomb planted under the car of a prominent Pakistani TV anchor threatened by the Taliban for his coverage of a schoolgirl shot by the militants, police said.

The bomb was made up of one pound of explosives stuffed in a tin can, said Bani Amin, the police chief in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, where the incident occurred. It was placed in a bag and attached to the bottom of Mir's car, said Amin.

One of Mir's neighbors noticed the bomb under the car after the TV anchor returned from a local market, and the police were notified, said Rana Jawad, a senior official at Geo TV.

No group has claimed responsibility.

The Pakistani Taliban threatened Mir and other journalists last month over their coverage of an assassination attempt against Malala Yousufzai, a 15-year-old schoolgirl activist who was shot in the head by the militants in the northwest Swat Valley.

The Taliban targeted Malala for criticizing the militant group and promoting secular girls’ education, which is opposed by the Islamist extremists. She is recovering in Britain.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik offered 50 million rupees ($500,000) for information about those responsible for the attempted attack against Mir.

The anchor said on TV after the incident that it would not deter him from speaking the truth.

“It was proven today that the Protector is more powerful than the attacker,” said Mir.

He said he wasn't prepared to blame the Taliban for the attempted bombing, claiming he had received threats from others as well.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, a bomb hidden in a cement construction block exploded in the southern city of Karachi, killing one person, said senior police officer Farooq Awan. Four other people were wounded, he said.

The bomb contained about one kilogram (two pounds) of explosives and was detonated by a mobile phone, Awan said.

Pakistan suspended mobile phone service throughout most of the country on Saturday and Sunday to prevent attacks against Shiite Muslims during a major religious commemoration.

Despite the ban, a pair of bombings over the weekend killed at least 13 people.

Awan said he suspected the bomb in Karachi was meant to target Shiites over the weekend, but militants were not able to detonate it at the time because of the mobile phone cutoff.

Shiites are observing the holy month of Muharram. Pakistani Shiites on Sunday marked Ashoura, the most important day of the month.

Pakistan has a long history of Sunni Muslim extremists targeting Shiites, whom they consider heretics.

Also Monday, police said 16 addicts have died in the eastern city of Lahore after drinking cough syrup suspected of being toxic, said police officer Multan Khan.

Khan said they died at various hospitals in Lahore over the past three days. Two people were still being treated at the city's main hospital.

Police arrested the owners of three drug stores where the cough syrup was sold and sent a sample for analysis to determine whether it was toxic, Khan said.



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