70 killed, 120 hurt in Pakistan election campaign bombing

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 eastern city of La

At least 128 people, including Balochistan Awami Party leader Siraj Raisani, were killed in the blast that occurred during an election rally in Balochistan's Mastung in Pakistan amid tensions over former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter's arrival in the country.

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

The Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Balochistan.

It 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.

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

Among those killed in Friday's attack was Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, whose brother Nawab Aslam Raisani had served as the provincial chief minister from 2008 to 2013.

The former chief minister, whose name is in the list forwarded to the Interior Ministry by NACTA, was leaving a corner meeting when an improvised explosive device (IED) planted in a motorcycle some 50 metres away from the venue went off.

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The first bomb killed four people when it exploded in the north-west, near the election rally of a senior politician from an Islamist party who is running for parliament from the town of Bannu. Hospital officials said on Friday that the toll in that attack had risen to 22.

The attack was owned up by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day.

"These attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights", said State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert.

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

Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor in a tweet condemned the gruesome attacks in Mastung and went on to declare that, "Pakistan has lost a highly devoted & capable politician,".

But security across the country has dramatically improved since government and military operations cleared large swathes of territory near the Afghan border in recent years.

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari demanded that the security of contesting candidates be ensured. But analysts have long warned that the country has not tackled the root causes of extremism.

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