Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who escaped a suicide attack last week, linked the bombing to the Al-Qaeda on Monday.

At a press conference here, Mr. Sherpao, who received minor injuries, said the discovery of a second severed head at the site of the attack in Charsadda in the North-West Frontier Province, pointed to the possibility that there were two bombers.

The suicide jacket, parts of which were recovered from the site, was packed with a Russian made explosive substance, he said.

He said the attack had "linkages" with Al-Qaeda but did not elaborate.

The Minister said in Peshawar on Sunday that preliminary investigations indicated that the attack was planned by Beithullah Mesud, a Taliban leader in South Wazirisitan, who is also blamed for a string of other suicide bombings in Pakistan since January.Following the bombing, the Pakistan Interior Ministry is reported to have issued directives to provincial governments to step up security for VIPs, and declared 17 places in the country as "sensitive", the Daily Times reported. The Government has also advised the ousted Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary, who is in the midst of a high-profile speaking tour of bar associations countrywide, not to travel by road to a scheduled meeting in Lahore on May 5, and take the flight instead.

But that would take out some of the fizz from the planned event. His last road journey to Peshawar turned into a public procession and took the whole day, giving anti-government protests a further boost.