Dozens killed in Pakistan terror strike targeting political rally

Pauline Gross
July 14, 2018

Peshawar/Karachi: At least 133 people, including a top nationalist leader, were killed and over 200 others injured on Friday in a powerful suicide blast and a targeted attack on separate election rallies in Pakistan, the deadliest in a series of assaults on candidates ahead of the 25 July polls.

"Around 128 people have been killed and 150 injured in the suicide attack", caretaker Home Minister of Baluchistan Agha Umar Bangulzai told Dawn.

The blast - which was claimed by the Islamic State group - ripped through the crowd in the town of Mastung near the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta.

"My younger brother has been martyred in the suicide attack", Haji Lashkari Raisani, another brother of Siraj Raisani, confirmed, adding that he was critically injured in the attack and succumbed to his injuries while being taken to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Quetta.

Police had earlier said more than 1,000 people were in attendance at the rally.

A senior local administration official, Qaim Lashari also confirmed the new toll, saying the figure was likely to rise.

Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was campaigning for an assembly seat in the southern province of Balochistan, was killed in the bomb blast along with dozens of others, Balochistan Home Secretary Haider Ali Shikoh told CNN.

Pakistan lost a highly devoted & capable politician Siraj Raisani, said DG ISPR in a tweet.

Akram Durrani, former chief minister of the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, was unhurt in the bombing, which struck his rally in the town of Bannu, local police chief Kurram Rashid said.

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At least 85 people have died in a suicide attack in Pakistan that targeted the convoy of a political candidate in this month's general election, according to regional Health Minister Faiz Kakar.

The outlawed Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack, condemning Bilour and his predominantly secular Awami National Partyas "enemies of Islam".

Haroon Bilour, a party leader, and 21 others were killed. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day.

Five people were killed when a remote-controlled bomb went off near a JUI-F convoy in Bannu.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam were expected to be taken into custody when they arrived in Lahore on a flight from London via Abu Dhabi late Friday.

This was the second attack on MMA candidates in Bannu in the last two weeks.

Analysts warn, however, that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks.

Following the attacks, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.

Other reports by GizPress

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