Qatar slams Pakistan election rally blasts
Qatar voiced its strong condemnation of the double explosion that targeted two election rallies in the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan, causing deaths and injuries. In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated Qatar’s firm stance rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of motives and reasons. It expressed the state’s condolences to the victims’ families and the government and people of Pakistan, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
At least 133 people, including a politician, were killed yesterday in two attacks targeting election rallies in Pakistan, in the deadliest day for the country in several months, officials said.
“The number of dead has now risen to 128,” Qaim Lashari, deputy commissioner Mastung, a district of southwestern province of Baluchistan, told DPA.
He said that around 130 people were wounded in the attack and the number of dead is likely to increase.
Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, a candidate running for the provincial assembly, was among the dead, his family confirmed.
“My brother is no more ... he has been martyred,” Lashkari Raisani told media after the bombing in the town of Mastung near Quetta.
Raisani was running for a provincial seat with the newly-formed Baluchistan Awami Party (BAP), provincial home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told AFP.
“Mir Siraj Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta,” he added.
Raisani was the younger brother of former provincial chief minister Mir Aslam Raisani.
Both the militant Islamic State (IS) group and a faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in, which has intensified fears of violence in the run-up to elections on July 25.
The bombing is the deadliest attack to hit Pakistan this year and comes just hours after a roadside bomb killed five people in northwestern Pakistan, local police chief Khurram Rashid said.
Akram Khan Durrani, former chief minister of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), was not hurt in the bombing, which struck his rally in the town of Bannu, Rashid said.
Durrani, a candidate of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) party – survived, police said.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for that attack.
Around 30 people were being treated at a local hospital, said physician Jabbar Masood.
Pakistani Taliban have been targeting the leaders of Durrani’s party in the past for the religious group’s support and participation in the democratic process, which the militants say is a system brought in by Western infidels.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber blew himself at the election rally of a secular Pashtun party.
The bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted a rally by the Awami National Party (ANP) in the city of Peshawar.
Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was among the 22 killed.
Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan strongly condemn the bomb blast in Mastung.
In his tweet, Khan said: “Another condemnable terrorist attack on a political gathering – this time in Mastung. Saddened to learn of Nawabzada Siraj Raisini’s shahadat in this targeted attack as well as the shahadat of 15 other innocent citizens.”
Election violence by religious militants is common in Pakistan.
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in a bomband-gun attack after an election rally ahead of 2008 polls.
The attacks underscored the fragility of Pakistan’s dramatic gains in security after years of steady improvement and widespread optimism that things had turned a corner.
The Islamic State group has a muted presence in Pakistan but has carried out brutal attacks there in the past, including the blast at a Sufi shrine in February last year which killed nearly 90 people.
Militants have targeted politicians, religious gatherings, security forces and even schools in Pakistan.
But security across the country has dramatically improved since government and military operations cleared large swathes of territory near the Afghan border in recent years.
Analysts warn, however, that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks.
The military has warned of security threats in the run-up to the tense election on July 25, and said it will deploy more than 370,000 soldiers on polling day.
Following the series of attacks this week, activists called for Pakistani 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.
Last month, a US air strike killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Maulana Fazlullah, in neighbouring Afghanistan in what the Pakistani army called a “positive development” that also sparked fears of reprisals.
People gather at the bomb blast site in Mastung yesterday.