ISLAMABAD: At least 128 people, including politician Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, were martyred and more than 200 injured in a deadly suicide blast in Balochistan’s Mastung district on Friday afternoon, Balochistan Home Minister Agha Umar Bangulzai said.
The militant Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency. The attack is the deadliest since the 2014 carnage at Peshawar’s Army Public School.
“Mir Siraj Raisani succumbed to his wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta,” Bangulzai had told AFP earlier.
Balochistan’s Civil Defence Director Aslam Tareen as well as Bangulzai had both confirmed earlier that the blast was the result of a suicide attack.
Provincial officials said an unidentified attacker had targeted a corner meeting organised by Siraj, a Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate for PB-35 (Mastung). Senior provincial official Saeed Jamali said the bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of the compound where the political meeting was taking place.
Senior Vice-President of BAP Sarfaraz Bugti has condoled Nawabzada Siraj’s death.
COAS condemns heinous terrorist attack in Mashtung. Grieved on loss of precious lives. Pak lost a highly devoted & capable politician Siraj Raisani. Attempts of inimical forces to derail important democratic activity shall not succeed. United we all Pakistanis shall IA defeat them.
The younger brother of former Balochistan chief minister Nawab Aslam Raisani, Nawabzada Siraj had been chief of the Balochistan Muttahida Mahaz (BMM), formed by Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani in the 1970s, till June this year.
He had recently merged BMM with the newly-formed BAP.
He was contesting PB-35 (Mastung) for the 2018 elections against his own brother, Nawab Aslam Raisani, who is contesting as an independent.
Siraj’s teenage son, Hakmal Raisani, had been killed in a grenade attack on his vehicle in the same district in 2011. Siraj, who had been present inside the vehicle at the time of the attack, had escaped unhurt.
Shrugging off the threat to his own life, he had said at the time that he would continue to “raise the slogan of Pakistan”.
The Mastung bombing was the latest – and deadliest – of a string of attacks targeting politically active persons ahead of the July 25 election.
Earlier today, a blast targeted former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani’s convoy in Bannu. While Durrani remained safe, four people were killed and 32 others injured in the attack.
Last night, two people had been injured in a blast near BAP’s election office in Khuzdar.
On July 10, a suicide blast had killed Awami National Party (ANP) leader Haroon Bilour and 19 others in Peshawar’s Yaktoot area. The attack was claimed by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which had also claimed responsibility for 2012 attack that killed Haroon’s father, Bashir Bilour.
On July 7, at least seven people, including a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA), were injured when a convoy came under a bomb attack in Bannu.
Earlier this month, an attack on a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) candidate’s office in North Waziristan’s Razmak tehsil had injured 10.
Following the attacks, activists called for authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.
“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.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has also sought a detailed briefing from the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) on the threats faced by politicians and candidates.
Situated at a distance of 54km southeast of Quetta, Mastung has been a frequent site of deadly bombings targeting civilians.
In May 2017, 28 people were killed and over 40 others injured in an explosion near a local seminary in Mastung, which targeted the convoy of then deputy chairman Senate Abdul Ghafoor Haideri.
In 2014, more than two dozen people were killed and several injured when a powerful explosion ripped through a bus carrying Shia pilgrims.
In 2012, 19 people were killed and 25 others injured after three passenger buses were struck by an explosion in Mastung’s Dringarh area. A remotely-triggered bomb had hit a convoy of three buses and set one of them ablaze.
President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and many personalities belonging to different walks of life have condemned the Mastung suicide blast.
Agencies add: President Mamnoon Hussain and caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk have strongly condemned blast in Mastung, Balochistan.
They expressed deep grief and sorrow over loss of precious lives in the blast. They directed for providing the best medical facilities to the injured.
Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has also condemned the blast.
Meanwhile Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza also condemned attack on Balochistan Awami Party leader and election candidate in PB-35 Siraj Raisani in Mastung. He expressed deep grief and sorrow over death of Siraj Raisani and others in the attack.
The Chief Election Commission sought report of the incident from Balochistan caretaker Chief Minister, provincial chief secretary and inspector general of police. He directed for ensuring security to all election candidates.
Caretaker Chief Minister Balochistan Allauddin Marri has strongly condemned the bomb attack on corner meeting. He has sought a report from Deputy Commissioner Mastung about the incident and instructed the concerned authorities to ensure immediate arrest of the elements involved in this heinous act of terrorism. He has expressed heartfelt grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack.
Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, President Mamnoon Hussain, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, PPP head Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and leaders of other political parties have strongly condemned the suicide blast in Mastung that killed at least 42 people including brother of former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisai, Nawabzada Siraj Raisani on Friday.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sardar Muhammad Raza also condemned the blast on Balochistan Awami Party leader and election candidate in PB-35 Siraj Raisani in Mastung.
Sardar Muhammad Raza expressed deep grief and sorrow over death of Siraj Raisani and others in the attack.
The CEC sought report of the incident from Balochistan caretaker Chief Minister, provincial chief secretary and inspector general of police. He directed for ensuring security to all election candidates.
Interim Balochistan Chief Minister Allauddin Marri has strongly condemned the bomb attack on corner meeting. He has sought a report from Deputy Commissioner Mastung about the incident and instructed the concerned authorities to ensure immediate arrest of the elements involved in this heinous act of terrorism.
The Interim CM has expressed heartfelt grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the attack.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has strongly condemned terrorist bombing on the convoy of JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani near Bannu and stressed for adequate security to the contesting candidates in the wake of growing terrorist threats.
The PPP Chairman expressed deep grief and sorrow over the martyrdom of innocent people and urged for best medical facilities for those injured in the blast.
Bilawal said providing fool-proof security to the masses and the contesting candidates was the responsibility of the caretaker government, which has to be fulfilled without any delinquency.
The PPP chairman said that people and the institutions have to unite to face the challenge of growing terrorism incidents during the election campaign.