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128 dead following blast at Pakistan election rally

13 July 2018

Earlier he had said 70 people were killed. He also used the opportunity to again criticize 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".

The first bomb that killed four people exploded in the northwest near the election rally of a senior politician from an Islamist party who is running for parliament from the northwestern town of Bannu. Another senior official, Qaim Lashari, also confirmed it had been a suicide blast.

Speaking to reporters after the attack, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani said the blast took place near the tire of his jeep when he was passing through Haved Bazaar after addressing an election rally.

Nawaz Sharif decried the tactics ordered by the caretaker government that took over in June ahead of the general election, as Pakistan's constitution requires.

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"Mir Siraj Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta", caretaker provincial Home Minister Agha Umar said.

Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani. He was returning from Bakka Khel, Frontier Region Bannu, where he had attended a JUI-F congregation, when his convoy came under attack.

The earlier bomb, near the town of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was targeting the convoy of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate and former minister, Akram Khan Durrani, who survived the attack, police said.

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

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Sharif returned late Friday from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said.

"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.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a rally by an anti-Taliban political party in the northern city of Peshawar on Tuesday, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province killing 20 people including Haroon Bilour who was hoping to win a provincial assembly seat in July. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day. The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in over a year and is the third incident of election-related violence this week.

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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128 dead following blast at Pakistan election rally