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Top Pakistani security guard dies in Karachi attack

The Pakistani president's top security guard has died in a suspected suicide bombing. The attack claimed at least two other lives and left over 10 people wounded.

The head of President Asif Ali Zardari's personal security team was killed on Wednesday, the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in Pakistan. The security guard, Bilal Sheikh, had reportedly stopped his vehicle to purchase produce at a market, when the attack occurred, local officials said.

Officials said the assailant detonated explosives near Sheikh's car, killing Sheikh, the driver and a passer-by. At least 10 people sustained injuries from the blast.

President Zardari had been in Karachi at the time of the bombing, but had not been near the scene.

Sharif condemns attack

News of the top security guard's death drew an immediate response from the government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who leads the biggest rival to Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, issued a statement condemning the attack.

Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar called Sheikh a "sincere and long-time member of our party" and told reporters the president's office had been saddened by the news.

Sheikh had reportedly worked for Zardari for many years, also providing security for the Pakistani president's wife, former PM Benazir Bhutto, according to the news agency AFP. Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

The rate of sectarian and gang-related violence has gradually risen over the past month after a period of relative calm during the country's first successful transfer of civilian power. Two weeks ago, an attack targeting a High Court judge left eight members of his security team dead.

kms/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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