Blast targeting election rally kills 128 in Pakistan

Blast targeting election rally kills 128 in Pakistan

Blast targeting election rally kills 128 in Pakistan

The deadliest attack in Pakistan's troubled election campaign killed 128 people, including a candidate, in southwestern Baluchistan province on Friday ahead of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's return to Pakistan.

On Tuesday, a suicide bomber had killed Awami National Party (ANP) leader and candidate in the general elections, Haroon Bilour, and 19 others after striking at a corner election meeting in Peshawar.

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Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani.

Durrani, a former CM of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, remained unhurt in the attack.

At least 133 people have been killed - including a parliamentary candidate - and more than 230 wounded in two separate election-related bombings in Pakistan.

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It said that the national flag will fly at half mast on Sunday to mourn the deaths of almost 150 people in the recent terrorist attacks ahead of the general elections.

Pakistan's campaign until this week had been relatively peaceful, compared with frequent attacks by the Pakistani Taliban during the 2013 election, which saw 170 people killed, according to statistics from the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

The army chief attended funeral prayer of Siraj Raisani, met his family and visited Civil Medical Hospital in Quetta to meet injured of Mastung blast.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement to its news agency, but gave no reason for bombing Mr Raisani.

Sharif returned to Pakistan from London late Thursday and was arrested, one week after he was convicted in absentia on corruption charges and given a ten-year jail sentence.

"We have imposed emergency (management) in the hospitals and cancelled the vacations of the doctors and paramedics", Balochistan home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told AFP.

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Senior politician Akram Khan Durrani, a candidate of the five-party religious alliance Muttehida Majlis Amal (MMA), was an apparent target of the attack but escaped unscathed, local broadcaster ARY News reported.

Pakistan's army will deploy about 371,000 troops on election day, nearly three times the number in 2013, to protect the polling places.

Speaking to reporters after the attack, Durrani said authorities had warned him about potential security threats.

In hopes of soothing voters' fears, the army announced that 370,000 troops would man election polls July 25 in hopes of preventing attacks and to protect against predictions of fraud.

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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