Blast at home of Pakistani minister, 2 dead - police

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Nov 9 (Reuters) A suicide bomber killed two police guards today, blowing himself up as he was stopped trying to enter the home of a government minister, police said.

Earlier, state-run Pakistan Television said four people had been killed at the home of Minister for Political Affairs Amir Muqam in the northwestern city of Peshawar. But police said two were dead and four people wounded in the blast at the front gate.

The minister was in his home at the time but was unhurt.

''Police tried to stop the suicide bomber but he blew himself up,'' said city police chief Abdul Majid Marwat.

The minister, who is also provincial chief of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party, told state television he had seen the bodies of two of his guards. He said his brother had been wounded.

Pakistan has been hit by a wave of suicide attacks in recent months, most on security forces who are battling Islamist militants in the northwest of the country.

A suicide bombing on a welcome-home procession for self-exiled opposition leader Benazir Bhutto on Oct 18 killed 139 people in the city of Karachi.

The attacks have compounded a sense of crisis in nuclear-armed Pakistan where US ally President Pervez Musharraf is struggling to secure another term in office.

Musharraf imposed a state of emergency last Saturday, citing rising militancy and a hostile judiciary.

In a separate incident, a roadside bomb killed two paramilitary soldiers and wounded at least five in the northwestern valley of Swat, where Islamist militants are trying to impose Taliban-style rule, an army spokesman said.

Swat, which lies close to Pakistan's lawless tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, has seen a surge in violence since a militant cleric called for holy war after an army assault on a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad, in July.

REUTERS RKM HS1745

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