132 die in Pakistan election violence ahead of Sharif return
The deadliest attacks in Pakistan’s troubled election campaign killed at least 132 people, including a candidate, Friday just before the arrest of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif upon his return to the country.
In the southwestern province of Baluchistan, a suicide bomber killed 128 people, including a politician running for a provincial legislature. Four others died in a strike in Pakistan’s northwest, spreading panic in the country.
The attacks came hours before Sharif returned from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said. Maryam Sharif faces seven years in jail.
He was taken into custody to serve his sentence, however, he is expected to appeal and seek bail. It wasn’t clear when his appeal would be filed but he has until Monday.
In the southern town of Mastung, candidate Siraj Raisani and 127 others died when a suicide bomber blew himself up amid scores of supporters who had gathered at a rally.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried on its Aamaq news agency.
The group gave no reason for the bombing that killed Raisani, who was running for the election on the Baluchistan Awami Party ticket.
Raisani is the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani. Caretaker Home Minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told The Associated Press another 300 people were wounded in Friday’s bombing.
The U.S. State Department in a statement strongly condemned this week’s attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Pakistan.