128, including candidate, killed in blast in Pakistan; Islamic State claims attack

At least 128 people, including a candidate, were killed and more than 200 injured in a suicide attack on a local election meeting in Baluchistan’s Mastung district in Pakistan on Friday, agencies report.

Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency.

Nawabzada Siraj Raisani (Photo Credit: Twitter/@PakSarfrazbugti), brother of former Baluchistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, died while being shifted to a hospital in Quetta, provincial home minister, Agha Umar Bungalzai, told AFP.

Eight to 10 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack on a meeting organised by Siraj Raisani, who was contesting for the Baluchistan Awami Party (BAP) from PB-35 (Mastung) in the general elections to be held later this month.

Senior provincial official Saeed Jamali said the unknown bomber detonated the explosives in the middle of the compound where the election meeting was taking place.

Senior vice-president of BAP Sarfaraz Bugti condoled Siraj Raisani’s death. Earlier, the politician had survived a grenade attack on his vehicle in 2011 but his teenage son, Hakmal Raisani, died in the incident.

The Mastung bombing was the deadliest of a string of attacks targeting politicians and candidates ahead of the elections.

Earlier in the day, a blast targeted the convoy of former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Akram Khan Durrani in Bannu. While Durrani escaped the attack, four people were killed and 32 others were injured.

Workers of various parties have appealed to authorities to protect candidates during the final days of the election campaign.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has sought a briefing from the National Counterterrorism Authority on the threats faced by politicians and candidates.

Mastung had witnessed several deadly bombings targeting civilians.

In May 2017, 28 people were killed in an explosion when a convoy of then deputy chairman of the Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri was passing by a local seminary.

In 2014, dozens of people were killed when a blast ripped through a bus carrying Shia pilgrims.

In 2012, 19 people were killed when three passenger buses were hit by an explosion in Dringarh area.