Published: Sat, July 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Death toll leaps to 128 in Pakistan bombing

Death toll leaps to 128 in Pakistan bombing

A candidate in Pakistan's July 25 election was among at least least 25 people killed in a bombing at his campaign rally in restive Balochistan province, the second attack on a political event on Friday.

The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack that left 128 people dead, police officials said.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam were expected to be taken into custody when they arrived in Lahore on a flight from London via Abu Dhabi late Friday.

The earlier bomb, near the town of Bannu in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was targeting the convoy of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) candidate and former minister, Akram Khan Durrani, who survived the attack, police said.

"The death toll has now risen to 25", Agha Umar Bungalzai, the provincial home minister. His party appealed to supporters to head to Lahore and gather at the city's Allama Iqbal Airport to receive Sharif.

A victim of a bomb blast is brought to a hospital in Quetta on July 13, 2018 following an attack at an election rally.

Sharif's son-in-law is now serving his one-year prison sentence on the same charge, which stems from the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain that the court said were bought with illegally acquired money.

Bilour was part of the predominantly secular, ethnic Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party, which has long competed with religious parties for votes in Pakistan's volatile Pashtun lands, along the border with Afghanistan.

All roads leading to the airport and entry points into Lahore from adjoining areas were barricaded to prevent a large turnout of PML (N) supporters at the airport.

In a video message on Friday reportedly from aboard his aircraft en route to Pakistan, Sharif said he was returning knowing he would be taken directly to prison.

The officials have said the death toll has climbed at least four people while at least 32 others have sustained injuries and are undergoing treatment in the District Headquarter Hospital in Bannu.

Security situation in Pakistan has dramatically improved in recent years, with the military cracking down on militancy that has cost tens of thousands of lives in the past decade.

During his term in office, Sharif criticized the military's involvement in civilian affairs and its efforts in fighting extremists. The army will deploy 350,000 security personnel to polling stations on election day. The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in over a year and is the third incident of election-related violence this week.

The explosion targeted candidate Akram Khan Durrani, who escaped unhurt, and wounded 20 people, said local police chief Rashid Khan.

Mr Durrani is running against popular former MP Imran Khan.

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