Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

IS claims election rally bombing in Pakistan

IS claims election rally bombing in Pakistan

Clashes broke out Friday evening at the main highway entry point to Lahore between pro-Sharif protesters and police who had been deployed in their thousands, a Reuters witness said.

Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was campaigning for an assembly seat in the southern province of Balochistan, was killed in the bomb blast along with dozens of others, Balochistan Home Secretary Haider Ali Shikoh told CNN.

It came as Pakistan's caretaker government launched a crackdown on political gatherings with Sharif, who was ousted by the Supreme Court past year and convicted in absentia of corruption a week ago, arriving in the country to rally his party ahead of the general elections.

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.

He has served as the federal minister for housing and works in the last federal government and is also a former chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In the first incident near the KP town of Bannu, four people were killed and 39 injured when a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle detonated as a politician's convoy passed by on Friday, police said.

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

No group has claimed responsibility for the two attacks so far. TTP claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Durrani was returning after attending a rally in connection with the election campaign when he was attacked.

Mr Durrani is contesting election on NA-35, Bannu, from the platform of the MMA, a recently revived alliance of the religio-political parties.

Days earlier a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taleban targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the city of Peshawar on Tuesday.

Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was among the 22 killed. The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in over a year and is the third incident of election-related violence this week.

"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.

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.

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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