The death toll in the suicide blast targeting an election rally in the restive Balochistan reached 130 today with Pakistan announcing tomorrow as a day of national mourning over the recent terror attacks in the country. Militants yesterday targeted a gathering of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Siraj Raisani in the Mastung area in the troubled province, killing at least 128 people and injuring over 200 others. Raisani, who was a candidate from PB-35 (Mastung), was among those killed in the attack.
Two persons succumbed to their injuries today, taking the death toll to 130, the Express Tribune reported. At least 20 of the injured are reported to be in critical condition, it added. With two more deaths, the number of casualties mounted to 135 in the yesterday’s twin attacks in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Five persons were killed after a bomb hit a rally of Akram Khan Durrani of Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA), an alliance of religious parties, in the Bannu area Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement, today said in view of tragic incidents of terrorist attacks at Peshawar on Tuesday and in Mastung and Bannu yesterday, the government has announced to observe one day official mourning throughout the country tomorrow.
It said the national flag will fly at half mast tomorrow to mourn the deaths of nearly 150 people in the recent terrorist strikes ahead of the July 25 general elections. The PM Office also directed the Ministry of Interior to formally issue a notification for declaration of Sunday as the day of mourning, the Dawn reported.
Meanwhile, Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Balochistan’s capital Quetta to attend the funeral prayers of Raisani, to be held later in the evening. Bajwa is also expected to visit the injured of the blast being treated at CMH in Quetta, the Geo news said.
Normal life remained disrupted and business activities suspended in various parts of the Quetta city as security has been put on high alert in the area. With terrorists striking at ease before the general elections, Pakistani security establishment was under pressure to improve security and intelligence gathering to avoid further election carnage.
In an editorial today, the Dawn newspaper wrote, “this sudden upsurge in terrorist incidents calls for several urgent responses. First, state protection must be extended to all candidates who ask for it — without delay”. “Every effort must be made to ensure that the election is not derailed by elements hostile to the democratic process, for that is what the perpetrators of these attacks are,” it said.
“It has never been more true that Pakistan’s security establishment needs to focus on security, not politics,” tweeted analyst Mosharraf Zaidi. Following the yesterday’s twin attacks, the Election Commission of Pakistan summoned Chief of National Coordination Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) today to brief it on security threats to leaders of various political parties.
In a letter written to the authority, the commission had said it should be briefed about the security arrangements for political parties and overall security situation in the country, the ARY news said. The NACTA had recently warned of possible deadly attacks on various politicians, including Imran Khan, ANP’s head Afsandyar Wali, chairman of the Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao and some PML-N leaders.
On Tuesday, a suicide bomber had killed Awami National Party (ANP) leader and candidate in the general elections, Haroon Bilour, and 19 others after striking at a corner election meeting in Peshawar.