Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Death toll in IS-claimed Pakistan blast jumps to 128

Death toll in IS-claimed Pakistan blast jumps to 128

A victim of a bomb blast is brought to a hospital in Quetta on July 13, 2018 following an attack at an election rally.

In February 2017, ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a shrine in southern Pakistan, killing 83 people and wounding over 150.

The attack was the most lethal since Taliban militants assaulted a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014, killing more than150 people, mostly children, and one of the deadliest in Pakistan's long struggle with militancy.

In the southwestern province of Baluchistan, a suicide bomber killed 128 people Friday, including a politician running for a provincial legislature.

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari demanded that the security of contesting candidates be ensured. Hospital officials said Friday that the toll in that attack had risen to 22.

Uniformed men escorted the Sharifs, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, from their airplane after it touched down in the central city of Lahore at around 8:45 p.m. (1645 GMT), a Reuters reporter on board said.

Sharif is expected to appeal his conviction and seek bail.

The blast in the town of Mastung, near the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, was the latest in a string of attacks that have spurred fears of violence ahead of nationwide polls on July 25, and underscored the fragility of Pakistan's dramatic gains in security.

The Islamic State's Amaq News Agency claimed that the group was responsible for carrying out the bombing.

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Mr Bungalzai said Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with the Balochistan Awami Party, was among the dead. He was younger brother of Nawab Aslam Raisani, former chief minister of Balochistan.

Caretaker provincial Home Minister Agha Umar Bangulzai confirmed the death toll to Express News.

"The United States strongly condemns this week's attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan".

The spokesperson said Washington will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan in their fight against terrorism. The two were in London visiting Sharif's ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted them of corruption.

His son-in-law is now serving a one-year prison sentence on the same charge.

Barricades and barbed wire were placed across roads toward the airport to prevent crowds. He said in a statement after the suicide blast in Peshawar, the Bannu attack was an attempt to terrorise people ahead of the polling day.

In July 2011, Siraj Raisani lost his 14-year-old son in a terrorist attack in Mastung, in which several others, including security personnel, were killed.

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

He may have been targeted amid ongoing allegations that Mr Sharif is being kept out of politics to allow the military to maintain power. Reports say that around 1000 people were in attendance at the political meeting.

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