The toll from the deadliest attack on a campaign rally in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan reached 130, on Saturday, as the country’s security establishment was under pressure to improve security and intelligence gathering to avoid further election carnage.
At least 20 of the injured among over 200 people are reported to be in critical condition, the Express Tribune reported.
Militants yesterday targeted a gathering of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Siraj Raisani in the Mastung area in the troubled province, killing at least 128 people and injuring over 200 others. Raisani, who was a candidate from PB-35 (Mastung), was among those killed in the attack.
With two more deaths, the number of casualties mounted to 135 in the yesterday’s twin attacks in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Normal life remained disrupted and business activities suspended in various parts of the Balochistan city as security has been put on high alert in the area.
The Islamic State terror group had claimed responsibility for the attack through its Aamaq news agency. Meanwhile, there was a growing demand to improve security situation across Pakistan as the people of country are due to exercise their franchise on July 25.
In a hard-hitting editorial today, the Dawn newspaper wrote, “this sudden upsurge in terrorist incidents calls for several urgent responses. First, state protection must be extended to all candidates who ask for it without delay”.
“Every effort must be made to ensure that the election is not derailed by elements hostile to the democratic process, for that is what the perpetrators of these attacks are,” it said.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has summoned Chief of National Coordination Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) today to brief it on security threats to leaders of various political parties.
In a letter written to the authority, the commission said it should be briefed about the security arrangements for political parties and overall security situation in the country, the ARY news said.
The NACTA had recently warned of deadly threats to various politicians, including Imran Khan, ANP’s head Afsandyar Wali, chairman of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and some PML-N leaders.
Yesterday’s attack in Balochistan came hours after a bomb hit a rally of Akram Khan Durrani of Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious party, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) and Jamaat-e-Islami, in the Bannu area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
Five persons were killed and over 37 other in the attack.
On Monday, a suicide bomber had killed Awami National Party (ANP) leader and candidate in the general elections, Haroon Bilour, and 19 others after striking at a corner election meeting in Peshawar.