Dozens killed in Pakistan terror strike targeting political rally

Disgraced ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be whisked away by helicopter to the federal capital of Islamabad when he returns Friday to Pakistan's easte

Disgraced ex Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be whisked away by helicopter to the federal capital of Islamabad when he returns Friday to Pakistan's easte

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were arrested on Friday after flying back to the country to face lengthy prison sentences, in a high-stakes gamble to galvanize their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 election.

Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani. Hospital officials said on Friday that the toll in that attack had risen to 22.

"It apparently was a suicide attack", he said, though that could not be immediately confirmed.

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.

"Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta", District Police Officer Mohammad Ayub Achakzai said.

The second explosion was in southwestern Baluchistan province, that killed 65 people and critically wounded the candidate.

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

The attack came hours after a bomb hit a rally of Akram Khan Durrani of Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious party, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami, in Bannu area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

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Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's AMAQ news agency said. Durrani is running against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) is one of the front-runners in the July 25 vote.

Pakistan's third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif's supporters would be prevented from gathering.

On Tuesday, a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the city of Peshawar.

According to reports, at least nineteen people including Mr. Bilour were killed in the attack.

Local media has reported two separate minor bomb attacks in Balochistan's Khuzdar district and Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during the month.

Security situation in Pakistan has dramatically improved in recent years, with the military cracking down on militancy that has cost tens of thousands of lives in the past decade.

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.

Analysts warn, however, that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks.

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