Tuesday, March 26, 2019
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Pakistan: Death toll rises to 149 in Mastung attack

At least 149 now reported killed in Friday's suicide attack at a political rally in Balochistan province.

Mastung attack

The death toll in one of Pakistan's bloodiest attacks that targeted an election campaign event continues to rise as the country prepares for general elections later this month.

The number of dead increased to 149 with 189 other people wounded in Mastung district in Balochistan province, senior police official Qaim Lashari said on Sunday.

A suicide bomber detonated at an election rally of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) in the southwestern town of Drigarh, about 35km south of the provincial capital Quetta, on Friday afternoon.

Several of the wounded are still receiving medical treatment, provincial health official Mustafa Jamali said on Saturday.

It was the third deadliest attack in Pakistan's history after the Karsaz bombing in 2008 and an attack on a school in Peshawar in 2014.

BAP leader Siraj Raisani, who was running for a provincial assembly seat in Pakistan's general election later this month, was killed as the explosion occurred in the middle of a packed crowd.

There were conflicting claims of responsibility for the blast, with both Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and a faction of the Pakistan Taliban claiming the attack.

It was the third deadly incident of election-related violence this week.

On Tuesday, prominent politician Haroon Bilour was killed along with 19 others in a suicide attack at a Peshawar rally that also wounded 69 others.

That attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, also called the Pakistan Taliban, which has said it was responsible for killing Bilour's father - a staunch opponent of the armed group - in 2012.

On Friday, another explosion targeted an election rally hosted by the JUI-F religious political party in the northwest town of Bannu, killing at least four people and wounding 19 others.

At least 158 people were killed and more than 670 wounded in about 120 attacks in the six weeks leading up to the election, according to the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies research organisation.

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