Death toll in Mastung blast rises to 129

July 14, 2018
Zaheer Zarf, AFP and Noor Ul Arifeen

FC personnel gather in Mastung on July 13, 2018, following a bomb blast here at an election rally. AFP

At least 129 people, including Balochistan Awami Party leader Siraj Raisani, were killed in an apparent suicide attack near a corner meeting of the BAP in Mastung.

According to senior provincial official Saeed Jamali, the bomb was detonated in the middle of a compound where a political meeting was taking place. Another senior official, Qaim Lashari, also confirmed that it was a suicide blast.

Siraj, the brother of former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, was contesting the election for provincial assembly seat PB-32.

Sarfraz Bugti, the former Balochistan home minister, confirmed Siraj’s death.

“My brother and dear friend Nawab Siraj Raisani is no more with us,” Bugti tweeted.

Earlier, five people were killed and 35 injured when a remote-controlled bomb went off near a JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani’s convoy in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bannu district.

Durrani, a former CM of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, remained unhurt in the attack. He is the JUI-F’s candidate against PTI chief Imran Khan on the NA-35 seat in Bannu.

Police say the attack took place 50 metres away from Durrani’s election rally.

‘Duty to protect’

Following the series of attacks, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.

“The Pakistani authorities have a duty to protect the rights of all Pakistanis during this election period — their physical security and their ability to express their political views freely, regardless of which party they belong to,” said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.

The military has warned of security fears in the run-up to the tense election on July 25, and said it will deploy more than 370,000 soldiers on polling day.

Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Pakistan.

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.

Last month a drone strike killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Fazlullah, in neighbouring Afghanistan in what the Pakistani army called a “positive development” that also sparked fears of reprisals.

COAS condemns Mastung blast

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa condemned the Mastung blast stating that Pakistan lost a highly devoted and capable politician.

“Attempts of inimical forces to derail important democratic activity shall not succeed,” Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted. “United we all Pakistanis shall IA defeat them.”

Two-day mourning

The caretaker Balochistan government has announced a two-day mourning.

According to a release, Saturday and Sunday will be observed as days of mourning.

The national flag will be flying at half mast however educational institutes and government offices will remain open.

Balochistan Awami Party has also suspended its political activities for three days.

Islamic State group claims Pakistan blast: Amaq

The Islamic State claimed the responsibility for the suicide bombing, according to the group’s Amaq propaganda agency.