The death toll in a suicide bombing in southwestern Pakistan Friday jumped to 128, an official said, the deadliest in a string of attacks on political rallies that have raised security fears ahead of nationwide polls.
Witnesses said that Siraj Raisani of the regional Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) was preparing to address hundreds of supporters in the Mastung district when the bomber near the stage detonated explosives strapped to his body.
Senior police official Qaim Lashari told Reuters the bomber attacked the convoy of Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, killing 10 and wounding 35, including Raisani.
The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack that left 128 people dead, police officials said.
The bombing was the third incident of election-related violence this week.
More than 100 people were wounded in the suicide bomb attack at the election rally in the town of Mastung.
Balochistan Awami Party candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was scheduled to contest the election against his brother, died in the blast.
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Men mourn the death of relatives and party workers, who were killed after a suicide attack during an election campaign meeting, at hospital morgue in Quetta, Pakistan July 13, 2018.
The explosion comes hours after four people were killed and 39 injured when a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle detonated near Akram Khan Durrani´s convoy in Bannu.
Earlier, RPO Karim Khan informed Geo News that the explosion took place 50 metres away from the site of a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) rally in Haved locality, adding that 40 policemen were deployed at the venue for security duties. Durrani is standing against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) is one of the frontrunners in the July 25 vote.
The deadly attacks were condemned by President Mamnoon Hussain, Interim Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, caretaker chief ministers of all provinces among other political leaders.
In July 2011, Siraj Raisani lost his 14-year-old son in a terrorist attack in Mastung, in which several others, including security personnel, were killed.
Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was among the 22 killed.
Expressing concerns over such attacks during election campaigns, he called for serious investigations in these attacks.
Analysts warn however that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of militancy.