Dozens killed in Pakistan terror strike targeting political rally
14 July, 2018, 11:50
The death toll in an ISIS-claimed suicide blast targeting a political rally in southwest Pakistan on Friday jumped to 128, officials told AFP, in the deadliest attack in the country since 2014.
Caretaker Home Minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told The Associated Press another 300 people were wounded in Friday's bombing.
"It apparently was a suicide attack", he said, though that could not be immediately confirmed. Five persons were killed and over 37 other injured, police said.
A senior local administration official, Qaim Lashari also confirmed the new toll, saying the figure was likely to rise.
"My brother Siraj Raisani has been martyred", said Haji Lashkari Raisani, another brother who is also contesting a national assembly seat from Baluchistan.
Mr Raisani was the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani.
Disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in custody on Saturday, a day after the deadliest attacks in Pakistan's troubled election campaign killed more than 130 people, including a candidate.
The blast was the latest in a string of attacks that have spurred fears of violence ahead of the general election on July 25, and came hours after four people were killed and 39 injured in a bomb blast targetting a JUI-F convoy in Bannu on Friday.
And on Tuesday, a bomb targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in Peshawar. He later visited the injured in a hospital in Bannu and said that his vehicle was damaged in the attack.
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Durrani belongs to an alliance of religious groups called Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, which ruled the province between 2002 and 2008 under him.
The figurehead of Pakistan's ruling party was held and taken to a waiting plane to be flown to Islamabad soon after touching down in his Lahore stronghold.
"The suicide bomber blew himself up when local leaders were speaking at the gathering", said a survivor who had received injuries. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day. In July 2011, Siraj Raisani had lost his 14-year-old son in a terrorist attack in Mastung in which several others, including security personnel, were killed.
But security across the country has dramatically improved since government and military operations cleared large swathes of territory near the Afghan border in recent years.
"The attack is a conspiracy to sabotage the electoral process in the province", he said in a statement.
With violence escalating, Pakistan's army said earlier this week that it plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations to ensure the elections are "free and fair".
The spokesperson said Washington will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism.
He was the former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the restive province in northwest Pakistan that borders Afghanistan. But it comes amid accusations from Mr Sharif that his long-time enemies in the military establishment are undermining his Pakistan Muslim League's (PML-N) campaign in favour of Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf party.
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