ISLAMABAD: A high-profile Pakistani journalist and television anchor escaped an assassination bid yesterday when police defused a bomb planted under his car in Islamabad, police and his channel said.
The device in a metal box was found stuck under the front passenger seat of Hamid Mir’s car, city police chief Bani Amin said.
Mir, who hosts the Capital Talk evening show on Geo television and writes a column for the biggest-selling newspaper Jang, was criticised by the Taliban last month in the wake of the shooting of teenage activist Malala Yousafzai.
“It was in a tin box, there was half a kilo of explosives fitted with detoNator,” Amin told Geo News.
He said officers have defused the bomb and are gathering evidence at the scene. Mir was on his way to his office and the bomb was apparently planted when he stopped at a market, said Geo’s Islamabad bureau chief Rana Jawad.
“Its a message to me as well as Geo and the journalist community in Pakistan,” Mir told the television channel. “They want to stop us from speaking the truth but I want to tell them that we will not be deterred.”
Intelligence officials said last month that an intercepted Taliban message suggested suicide bombers had been assigned to attack journalists, with Geo at the top of the list of targets because of their coverage of the Malala attack.
Taliban hitmen shot Malala on her school bus in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley because she had campaigned for girls’ rights to go to school. The 15-year-old survived.
In Karachi a bomb attack killed a labourer and wounded four passers-by, officials said. The blast was detonated by a mobile phone. Authorities said they believed it had been planted to target a procession of Shiite Muslims who had been scheduled to pass through the area in recent days.
Pakistan suspended mobile phone services in Karachi and other cities at the weekend to try to prevent attacks on Ashura, the holiest day in the Shiite Muslim calendar.
But a bomb attack claimed by the Taliban on a Shiite Muslim procession killed five and wounded scores in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan. AFP