Blast targets convoy of JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani, 4 killed

Blast targets convoy of JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani, 4 killed

Blast targets convoy of JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani, 4 killed

At least 70 people, including an election candidate, were killed and over 120 were injured in a blast at a rally in Pakistan's Balochistan province on Friday afternoon, Dawn reported, quoting provincial Health Minister Faiz Kakar.

Baluchistan Home Minister Agha Omer Bangulzai told Reuters that the death toll in the attack had risen to 128 people, with over 150 wounded. Another senior official, Qaim Lashari, also confirmed it had been a suicide blast.

ISIS's AMAQ news agency provided no further detail or evidence for its claim.

A Pakistani man injured in a bomb blast at an election rally is brought to a hospital in Quetta, July 13, 2018.

District Police Officer Bannu Khurram Rashid has said the incident took place as Durrani was returning from an election rally and explosives were detonated close to his vehicle with the help of remote control.

Earlier, Agha Umar Bungalzai, provincial home minister, told AFP that the explosion in Mastung town, near the provincial capital of Quetta, killed Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial seat with Balochistan Awami Party (BAP).

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Balochistan Awami Party candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was scheduled to contest the election against his brother, died in the blast.

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.

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The Islamic State group has a muted presence in Pakistan but has carried out brutal attacks there in the past, including the blast at a Sufi shrine in February a year ago which killed almost 90 people.

The country's media regulator warned local news channels to abstain from airing statements "by political leadership containing defamatory and derogatory content targeting various state institutions specifically judiciary and armed forces", the regulator said in a statement.

Durrani, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate, survived the attack.

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Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was among the 22 killed.

Caretaker Chief Minister Dost Mohammad Khan condemned the incident and summoned an emergency meeting to discuss the security situation in the aftermath of the attack.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

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

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.

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