Death toll in ISIS-claimed Mastung blast rises to 128

Cheryl Sanders
July 14, 2018

In one of the deadliest attacks in Pakistan's history, a suicide bomber targeting a political rally in southwest of the country killed 128 people, on Friday.

A senior provincial government official also confirmed the figure, adding that 150 others were injured in the attack.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's AMAQ news agency said. The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in over a year and is the third incident of election-related violence this week.

Police had earlier said that the attack targeted Raisani's convoy but later changed their statement as video footage of a large tent showing damage from the blast was circulated.

Militants targeted a gathering of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Siraj Raisani in Mastung area in the troubled Balochistan province.

In a horrific assault in the south-western Baluchistan town of Mastung, Siraj Raisani a candidate in the provincial Parliament, died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

The deadly suicide attack which ripped through a political rally of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is claimed to have been carried out by the Islamic State and has taken lives of over 128 people, including BAP leader and candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani from PB-35 (Mastung).

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).

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.

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. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

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

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

Following the series of attacks this week, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season. But analysts have long warned that the country has not tackled the root causes of extremism.

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