World

IS claims election rally bombing in Pakistan

IS claims election rally bombing in Pakistan

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.

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

At least 128 people, including Raisani, were killed in the deadly blast, police officials said.

Provincial Home Minister Umar Bangulzai confirmed to VOA that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.

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

Among the martyred was Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with the newly-formed local Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

Funeral prayers for Siraj Raisani will be offered at 3pm in the provincial capital today.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombings, but they came days after a suicide bomber dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban killed secular politician Haroon Ahmed Bilour and 20 others at his rally in the north-western city of Peshawar.




Earlier in the day, a bomb blast killed four people in the northern town of Bannu when it struck the campaign convoy of Akram Khan Durrani, an ally of Sharif's party from the religious Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal party (MMA).

On Tuesday, a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the city of Peshawar. Hospital officials said Friday that the toll in that attack had risen to 22.

The country's media regulator warned local news channels to abstain from airing statements "by political leadership containing defamatory and derogatory content targeting various state institutions specifically judiciary and armed forces", the regulator said in a statement.

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. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier, minor attacks on the houses and convoys of election candidates have taken place in different parts of Balochistan.

The United States has strongly condemned the attacks on Pakistani political candidates and their supporters.

The twin attacks came as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif along with his daughter Maryam returned to the country to face arrest in a corruption case.

"The Pakistani authorities have a duty to protect the rights of all Pakistanis during this election period - their physical security and their ability to express their political views freely, regardless of which party they belong to", said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.


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