Two killed in bomb attack on Pakistan minister's convoy

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - At least two people were killed when a roadside bomb hit the convoy of a Pakistani Cabinet minister in the country's troubled north-west on Thursday, police said.

Akram Khan Durrani, a minister for housing in Nawaz Sharif's Cabinet, survived the attack as he was travelling in the remote Frontier Region Bannu area near the North Waziristan tribal district after addressing a rally.

"It was an IED which hit two vehicles in Akram Khan Durrani's convoy. At least two passers-by have been killed," Tahir Khan, a senior police official in Bannu, told AFP.

Khan said Durrani was travelling in a bomb-proof official vehicle and was safe.

Five people, including two policemen in an escort vehicle, were wounded in the blast which also damaged an ambulance in the convoy, he said.

No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but leaders from Durrani's Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) party, an ally of the Sharif government, have been targeted by the Pakistani Taliban in the past.

The party's head Maulana Fazlur Rehman once acted as a negotiator between the militants and the government.

Akram Khan Durrani also worked as a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

FR Bannu is adjacent to North Waziristan, where the Pakistan army launched an operation in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militants who had previously been operating in the area with impunity.

The army has intensified and expanded its offensive since the Taleban's massacre of more than 150 people, the majority of them children, in a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar last December.