SHANGLA/PESHAWAR - Unknown gunmen shot dead a senior leader of opposition ANP along with two others near Peshawar on Sunday, hours after a bomb attack in Shangla district targeting an adviser of the prime minister killed six of his security staff.

Mian Mushtaq, former provincial vice president of the secular Awami National Party (ANP) that ruled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province until last year, was attacked near Mashokhel village in Peshawar suburbs, senior police official Rahim Shah said.

“Up to four gunmen had taken position on both sides of a road and as soon as Mian Mushtaq’s car passed they started firing and fled in the nearby fields,” Shah said. “Mian Mushtaq and two others (a party associate Gul Rehman Kaka and his driver Nadeem) died in the firing,” he added.

The bodies were shifted to a nearby hospital for medico-legal formalities. Police cordoned off the area and started search operation, however no arrest was reported. Sources said that Mushtaq has gone to offer fateha at Mashokhel village in outskirts of Peshawar. The ANP has announced a three days of mourning and directed the party’s office bearers to suspend all sort of organisational activates.

Earlier in the day two roadside bombs targeting the convoy of Amir Muqam of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) killed six of his security detail in the Martoong area of Shangla district in Swat valley, which the Taliban controlled from 2007-2009.

Amir Muqam himself remained unhurt but six people travelling with him killed and four others wounded in the attack near Poran town. Another senior police official, Gulzar Khan, confirmed the attack, which was later condemned in a statement by the prime minister’s office.

Khan said two improvised explosive devices weighing two kilograms (4.4 pounds) each were remotely detonated minutes apart and a third unexploded device found at the crime scene was defused by a bomb disposal squad. Police soon after the blasts rushed to the site cordoned off the area. DIG Malakand Abdullah Khan also said that two blasts were exploded near Amir Muqam’s vehicle. He said Muqam, who has survived many such attacks, was on his way to Shangla from Swat when the attack came.

The dead bodies were taken to nearby hospital. Later after the postmortem, the bodies were dispatched to their respective areas. The killed people included a cop of Islamabad Police, three policemen of KPK province and two personal bodyguards of Amir Muqam.

Engineer Amir Muqam, who is an adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, said he was safe but distraught over the loss of the men in his security detail. “I thank God for saving my life. I am very sad over the loss of my people who gave their lives while protecting me,” he said. The former federal minister, who now also holds the position of senior vice president of the PML-N, said he was visiting his home district Shangla with some 15 vehicles in his convoy to campaign for upcoming local bodies polls in the province.

“This is not the first attack on me. This is the sixth attack, but I will not be deterred from carrying out my political activities. I will not stop uttering truth” he added. He said that he saw the debris of the pilot car and pieces of human flesh falling from it. Muqam did not name who he thought was behind the bombing, but said that “there are people who cannot tolerate the truth and they want to silence the voice of the truth”.

KPK Governor Engineer Shaukatullah strongly condemned the terrorist attack at the convoy of Muqam and expressed his deep shock and sorrow over the loss of precious lives. The governor telephoned Muqam, enquired after him, expressed solidarity with him and wished his well being. Expressing his deep sympathies with members of the bereaved families, he vowed to bring the attackers to justice. ANP senior leader and MNA Ghulam Ahmad Bilour also condemned attack on Amir Muqam and said that government should decide whether it should stick to its policy of holding talks with Taliban or fight them out.

On the other hand, KPK Chief Minister Pervez Khattak strongly condemned the incident of firing and assassination of ANP leader Mian Mushtaq and his other colleagues in Peshawar. He directed the authorities concerned to arrest the culprits at the earliest.

ANP ex-president and senior leader Asfandyar Wali Khan also condemned the killings and said that his party had rendered a lot of sacrifices to restore peace. He said that ANP would continue opposing acts of militants. The ANP acting president Haji Adeel and provincial acting president Bashir Khan Matta also condemned the killings and accused the PTI government of failing to maintain law and order in the province.

The ANP is known for its outspoken views against the Taliban and backed military operations against the insurgents while it ruled the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province for five years till March 2013. Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has now formed a coalition government in the province but ANP leaders remain in the militants’ sights.

Talking to media persons, ANP leader Mian Iftakhar Hussain said that the terrorists have been targeting ANP leaders and workers for last many years but his party would continue its struggle for change and restoration of peace in the country. He urged the political parties and the people to get united against the menace of terrorism. Hussain said that terrorists don’t accept any constitution or parliament, but unfortunately politicians have failed to unite against them.

The Pakistani Taliban, other militant affiliates and al-Qaeda-linked networks all have strongholds in the country’s northwest, particularly in the semi-autonomous areas on the Afghan border. A fresh wave of terrorism and violence has taken a hold on the country wherein high profile political, social, religious personalities and personnel of law enforcement agencies are being targeted.