Suicide bomber kills Pakistani president’s guard

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber attacked a vehicle Wednesday carrying one of the Pakistani president’s guards in the southern city of Karachi, killing him and two police officers, police said.

President Asif Ali Zardari was in Karachi at the time but was not near the scene of the attack, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said. The guard who was killed, Bilal Sheikh, provided security at Zardari’s private residence in Karachi and also traveled with the president, Babar said.

“He was a sincere and a long-time member of our party, and we are sad over his death,” the spokesman said.

The suicide bomber attacked Sheikh’s vehicle when he stopped to buy fruit from a market, senior police officer Raja Umar Khatab said. The blast wounded 11 people, Khatab said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Karachi has a long history of violent attacks, both by Islamic militants and criminal gangs, some of which are allegedly connected with the city’s main political parties.

The Pakistani Taliban, who are fighting a bloody insurgency against the government, have made significant inroads in the city in recent years. Many of its members fled Pakistan’s northwest to escape army operations and U.S. drone attacks.

The Taliban are suspected of killing Zardari’s wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in a gun and bomb attack in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad in 2007.

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Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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