UPDATES DEATH TOLL
By Aamir Latif and By Islamuddin Sajid
KARACHI/ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – At least 133 people were killed and over 150 injured in two suspected suicide blasts targeting election rallies in southwest and northwest Pakistan on Friday, officials and local media reported.
A suspected suicide bomber detonated himself in an election rally in the remote Mastung district of mineral-rich Balochistan province, Balochistan Health Minister Faiz Kakar told reporters.
At least 128 people were killed in the blast, Balochistan Home Minister Agha Umar Bangulzai told reporters
The dead included a candidate from Mastung, Siraj Raisani, a brother of the former Chief Minister Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani.
Local broadcaster Express News quoting officials and eyewitnesses reported that the suspected bomber detonated himself as soon as Raisani strode to the stage to address the rally.
Global terror network Daesh has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack via a website called “Amaq Agency”.
Officials fear death toll may rise as several injured are stated to be in critical condition.
Earlier in the day, a suspected suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden motorbike into a vehicle minutes after the end of an election rally in the remote Bannu district, bordering the restive North Waziristan tribal region, killing five people and injuring another 30.
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.
Durrani, a former chief minister of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa province, is running against Imran Khan, a popular former cricket star, in Bannu.
Durrani told ARY News that he was not at the venue when the blast occurred.
This was the second attack on MMA candidates in Bannu in the last two weeks.
No group has claimed responsibility for the two blasts however security agencies point finger at Pakistani Taliban who have long been targeting the security agencies and civilians through suicide bombings.
The latest bombings followed a suicide blast at an election rally earlier this week in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa’s capital, that killed 21 people, including an election candidate.
Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the Peshawar attack.
Pakistan’s elections are scheduled for July 25.
Caretaker Prime Minister Justice Nasir-ul- Mulk condemned the fresh wave of attacks and directed the security agencies to ensure security of the election rallies and gatherings.