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Suicide bomber kills Pakistani provincial law minister, seven others

By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed the law minister of a Pakistani province and seven others on Wednesday as the country marked the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

Israr Gandapur was killed in his home as he greeted residents of his village who had come to celebrate the holiday.

More than 30 people were wounded in the attack including Gandapur's elder brother, said Irfan Mahsud, the assistant commissioner in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, located nearly 300 km (190 miles) southwest of Islamabad.

"I saw so many dead people and injured people crying for help," said eyewitness Haseeb Khan, whose new white holiday clothes were drenched in blood.

"There were arms, legs and heads everywhere."

Ansar al Mujahideen, a group allied to but not part of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group's spokesman, Abu Baseer, said it was in retaliation for the deaths of men killed during a July jailbreak in the same city.

He was referring to a major operation by fighters from the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban who disguised themselves as police and broke 250 prisoners out of a jail.

Gandapur was killed in his home village of Kulachi, about 50 km west of Dera Ismail Khan. He was local chief and the law minister for the northern Khyber Pakutunkhwa province, the heartland of the Taliban.

The province is ruled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, a party led by former cricketer Imran Khan, which favors peace talks with the Taliban. Gandapur is the most senior member of the party to have been killed so far.

The Taliban have said they are open to talks.

But they also say they will not disarm, do not recognize the Pakistani constitution, and will not talk to the government until the army pulls back from their strongholds and all their prisoners are released.

(Additional reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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