Pakistan to award slain boy for foiling bombing

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's prime minister announced Friday that a teenage boy who sacrificed his life to stop a suicide bomber who wanted to attack his school should be honored with the nation's highest civil award of bravery.

Aitzaz Hasan, 17, died Monday in a remote village in Hangu, a district in northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Pakistanis have praised the boy since his teacher told police that he saw Hasan chasing the bomber, who detonated his explosives, killing the teen.

On Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif praised the boy in a statement, saying his "brave act saved the lives of hundreds of students and established a sterling example of gallantry and patriotism." Sharif advised President Mamnoon Hussain to approve the conferment of Pakistan's Star of Bravery to Hasan, the statement said.

The award is given by the president on the advice of the prime minister. On Friday, Hasan's teacher Azmat Ali told AP Television News that the boy "played a significant role while stopping the suicide bomber. Our school is really proud of him."

He remembered Hasan as a brave, sincere and an obedient student. Classmate Naseeb Ali also praised Hasan, saying he was a very bold and kind boy. "We felt sorry after losing him but we are proud of being his friends," Ali said.

The area where Hasan lived is home to many members of a minority Shiite Muslim sect who have often been killed by militants who view them as heretics. Pakistan has witnessed scores of suicide bombings in recent years.

Meanwhile Friday, gunmen killed two workers at the shrine of Ghazi Shah Baba in the northwestern city of Mardan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, local police official Iqbal Khan said. Mardan lies 50 kilometers (30 miles) east of the northwestern city of Peshawar.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Pakistani Taliban, who follow a strict interpretation of Islam, have in recent years targeted shrines, which they consider to be sacrilegious. Last week, militants killed six people at the shrine of a Sufi saint in the port city of Karachi.

Khan said an investigating is underway to determine whether the two attacks are connected.

Associated Press writer Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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