In Mastung, Pakistan, a suicide bomber attacked during a political rally for assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, killing 128 people (including Raisani) and wounding 300 more. It was the second political attack of the day, following an attempted assassination bombing in northwestern Pakistan. There, four people had been killed and twenty injured, while the candidate, Akram Khan Durrani, emerged unscathed. (Reuters)
Earlier in the week Haroon Ahmed Bilour, a secular candidate was killed along with twenty others in a bombing in Peshawar.
The bombing in Mastung was claimed by Islamic State, but the attacks have been leveled at all varieties of Pakistani politicians. Durrani is an Islamist candidate, Raisani was a centrist and Bilour a secularist.
The attacks have been condemned by countries throughout the world, including the United States State Department:
The United States strongly condemns this week’s attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces of Pakistan. These attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights.
We grieve with those mourning the victims, and hope for a rapid recovery of those injured. We will continue to stand with the people of Pakistan and the broader South Asia region in their fight against terrorism.
The election is to be held on July 25th, which has prompted candidates to host political rallies and opened themselves and their supporters up as targets of opportunity for assassins.
Further complicating the pre-electoral situation was the arrival and immediate arrest of the previous Prime Minister and his daughter from their visit to Sharifs cancer-stricken wife in England. Kulsoom Sharif is on life support in a London hospital.
Nawaz Sharif had been removed from office by the Pakistani Supreme Court in 2017, and had been tried and convicted of corruption in absentia. Sharif arrived at the airport in Lahore knowing he and his daughter would be arrested. His stated reason for returning was an attempt to rally his party, the Pakistan Muslim League, ahead of the elections. (BBC)
Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to ten years in prison for corruption related to ownership of four luxury apartments in Britain. His daughter, Maryam, was sentenced to seven years.