Explosion in Pakistan leaves at least 36 dead, wounded

Explosion in Pakistan leaves at least 36 dead, wounded

An explosion targeting a political rally in the northwestern Pakistan city of Bannu has killed ten people, police officials say, the second such attack this week, raising fears of violence ahead of a July 25 general election.

Balochistan province's home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai said the death toll in the town of Mastung "has risen to 128".

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

The ultraviolent Islamic State or Daish terror outfit claimed responsibility for the deadly attack in a short statement.

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

In a horrific assault in the south-western Baluchistan town of Mastung, Siraj Raisani a candidate in the provincial Parliament, died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

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.

The deadliest attack in Pakistan's troubled election campaign has killed at least 70 people, including a candidate, as disgraced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned home to face arrest.

The officials have said the death toll has climbed at least four people while at least 32 others have sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment in the District Headquarter Hospital in Bannu.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, also condemned the attack.

He also used the opportunity to again criticise Pakistan's powerful military, which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for most of its 71-year history, saying Pakistan now has a "state above the state". No group has yet claimed responsibility for that attack.

Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was among those killed.

"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.

Analysts warn, however, that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks.