Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

70 killed in attack at election rally in Pakistan's Quetta

70 killed in attack at election rally in Pakistan's Quetta

The Mastung bombing was the latest, and deadliest, in a string of attacks targeting politically exposed persons ahead of the July 25 election.

The attacks underscored the fragility of Pakistan's dramatic gains in security after years of steady improvement and widespread optimism that things had turned a corner.

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.

In a directive to all satellite television channels, the National Electronic Regulatory Authority barred them from airing interviews granted by Sharif to reporters in London and Abu Dhabi as well as paid advertisements eulogising the tumultuous five years of Sharif's government.

He was taken into custody but is expected to appeal his sentence and seek bail.

Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with the newly-formed local Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), was among those martyred as the blast ripped through the rally when he took the stage on Friday.

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

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

The blast targeted a convoy transporting former Housing and Works Minister Akram Khan Durrani, who escaped unharmed, local police chief Khurram Rashid said.

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

The Balochistan Awami Party was created in March after the removal of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) coalition government in Balochistan, Dawn reported. But he said the people of Pakistan will not allow anything to prevent "historic" elections from taking place.

His son-in-law is now serving his one year prison sentence on the same charge, which stems from the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain, which were found to have been bought with illegally acquired money.

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Hospitals in the area have been placed under "emergency" management after being overwhelmed yesterday, with around 150 also injured in the blast - many of them still in critical condition after suffering head trauma.

During his term in office, Sharif criticized the military's involvement in civilian affairs and its efforts in fighting extremists.

The military denied the accusations saying their assistance in carrying out the elections was requested by Pakistan's Election Commission.

The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan during the past few years and is the third incident of election-related violence this week.

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

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