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1 dead, 8 hurt in suicide attack targeting Pakistani minister

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Raisani: "The attacks can't stop me ..."
  • The minister was not harmed, police say
  • Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan and rich in resources
  • Militants there have been fighting for self-rule

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- At least one person was killed and eight others hurt in southwest Pakistan on Tuesday when a suicide bomber targeted a convoy of the chief minister of Balochistan province.

The minister, Aslam Raisani, was unharmed, Quetta police said.

"A suicide bomber on foot hit the convoy of the chief minister and blew himself up," said Anwar Shahani, a senior police official in the province's capital, Quetta.

Shahani described the attack as an "assassination attempt" against the minister who was on his way to attend the provincial assembly session.

"I was the target and narrowly escaped," Raisani said. "These attacks can't stop me from fighting against terrorism"

Raisani, a member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, was elected chief minister in April 2008.

Balochistan, located near the Afghan border, is the largest province in Pakistan but one of its least populated. The province is rich in natural resources.

Militants there have for years complained that the central government has paid little attention to them and their economic needs. They have been fighting Pakistani military forces for self-rule.

More recently, the province has seen an influx of Afghan refugees. And the Afghan government believes that key Taliban leaders may be hiding among them.

Pakistan has said the militants in Balochistan do not have links to the Islamic hard-liners who have launched assaults in other parts of the country.

Soon after the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party swept into power, it called for an end to military operations in Balochistan, the largest of Pakistan's four provinces.

It said it would work toward giving "maximum provincial autonomy" to the area.

CNN's Nasir Habib and Samson Desta contributed to this report