Blast at election campaign event kills at least 128 people in Pakistan

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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 July 25 polls.

Caretaker provincial Home Minister Agha Umar Bangulzai confirmed the death toll to the Express News.

The ultraviolent Islamic State or Daish terror outfit claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a short statement. The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in more than a year and the third incident of election-related violence this week.

The earlier blast, near the town of Bannu, was targeting the convoy of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate Akram Khan Durrani, who survived the attack, police said.

Balochistan Awami Party candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was scheduled to contest the election against his brother, died in the blast.

Siraj is the brother of former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a rally by an anti-Taliban political party in the northern city of Peshawar on Tuesday, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killing 20 people including Haroon Bilour who was hoping to win a provincial assembly seat in July.

The officials have said the death toll has climbed at least four people while at least 32 others have sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment in the District Headquarter Hospital in Bannu. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day. Other local authorities confirmed the attack.

"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.

It came as Pakistan's caretaker government launched a crackdown on political gatherings.

The Islamic State group has a muted presence in Pakistan but has carried out brutal attacks there in the past, including the blast at a Sufi shrine in February a year ago which killed almost 90 people.

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

Bilour was part of the predominantly secular, ethnic Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party, which has long competed with Islamist parties for votes in Pakistan's volatile Pashtun lands, along the border with Afghanistan.

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