At least 75 people, including a top nationalist leader, were killed and more than 150 others injured today as powerful suicide bomb blasts targeted two separate election rallies in Pakistan, the deadliest in a string of attacks on candidates ahead of the July 25 polls. Militants targeted a gathering of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Siraj Raisani in Mastung area of Balochistan province.
"Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta," District Police Officer Mohammad Ayub Achakzai said. Raisani is the brother of former Chief Minister of Balochistan, Nawab Aslam Raisani. The nature of the attack was not known and police and intelligence agencies were trying to figure out if it was a suicide bombing.
Baluchistan's caretaker health minister, Faiz Kakar and the Deputy Commissioner of Mastung, Habib Baluch confirmed that BAP leader Raisani had been killed along with 69 other people in the blast. "Initially the death toll was not high but many critically injured persons including Siraj Raisani passed away in hospitals," Kakar said. He said the death toll could rise further as 120 other people have been wounded in the explosion. Following the incident, an emergency was declared in Quetta hospitals, with additional medical staff summoned.
The attack 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 Bannu area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Five persons were killed and over 37 other injured, police said.
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