Sunday 19 January 2020

74 people die in election violence ahead of ex-PM Sharif’s return

A total of 70 people, including a local parliament candidate, died in Baluchistan province.

Hospital staff treat people injured in a bomb blast, at a hospital in Quetta (Arshad Butt/AP)
Hospital staff treat people injured in a bomb blast, at a hospital in Quetta (Arshad Butt/AP)

By Zaheer Babar and Abdul Sattar, Associated Press

Two attacks in Pakistan’s troubled election campaign have killed 74 people – with one candidate among 70 people who died in a bomb blast in south-western Baluchistan province.

The violence came ahead of disgraced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan.

Mr Sharif has returned along with his daughter Mariam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said. Mariam Sharif faces seven years in jail.

People hold an injured supporter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after a clash with police in Lahore (K.M. Chaudary/AP)

In the Baluchistan town of Mastung, Siraj Raisani a candidate in the provincial Parliament, died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

Mr Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani.

Caretaker home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai said another 120 people were injured in the carnage.

It was the second election-related violence to occur on Friday.

The first bomb killed four people exploded in the north-west, near the election rally of a senior politician from an Islamist party who is running for parliament from the town of Bannu.

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

Mr Durrani is running in the July 25 vote against popular former MP Imran Khan. He is a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an election alliance of radical religious groups.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Baluchistan attack.

Mr Khan, who hopes to become the next prime minister, condemned Friday’s attack against his opponent, Mr Durrani.

In a tweet, he said there seems to be a conspiracy to sabotage the July 25 vote. But he said the people of Pakistan will not allow anything to prevent “historic” elections from taking place.

PA Media

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