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Bomb kills at least 128 at Pakistan election rally

14 July 2018, 06:34 | Darnell Patrick

Bomb kills at least 128 at Pakistan election rally

Bomb kills at least 128 at Pakistan election rally

"The death toll has risen to 128", Balochistan home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told AFP.

Senior police official Qaim Lashari had earlier said that more than 1000 people were in attendance at the rally in the town of Mastung in the violence-plagued province of Baluchistan.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

District Police Officer Bannu Khurram Rashid has said the incident took place as Durrani was returning from an election rally and explosives were detonated close to his vehicle with the help of remote control.

Bungalzai also confirmed the explosion killed Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

He has served as the federal minister for housing and works in the last federal government and is also a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

It came hours after four people were killed and 39 injured when a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle detonated near a Pakistani politician's convoy in Bannu on Friday, near the border with Afghanistan.

Adding to the tension surrounding the upcoming poll, a suicide bomber hit an election rally of a regional party in southwestern Pakistan, killing 85 people.

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif said that the attack has raised question over the state of security in the country. Durrani is standing against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) is one of the frontrunners in the July 25 vote.

"What credibility will these elections have when the government is taking such a drastic action against our people and this crackdown is taking place all over the country?" he told Reuters at the airport in Abu Dhabi as he waited for a connecting flight to Lahore.

Local media confirmed the death toll, quoting Balochistan's Home Minister Agha Umar Bangalzai.

Durrani belongs to an alliance of religious groups called Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, which ruled the province between 2002 and 2008 under him.

Haroon Bilour, a senior secular politician and candidate for a provincial assembly seat, was among those killed in Tuesday's bombing.

Pakistan's third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif's supporters would be prevented from gathering. But analysts have long warned that the country has not tackled the root causes of extremism.



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