Mastung, Balochistan, Pakistan — Yet another explosion from a suicide bomber tore through Pakistan on Friday, killing scores of local Pakistanis. The death toll has currently risen to 132, a devastating blow to the entire country. Over 300 people are reported to have been injured.
The attack occurred at a Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) rally as general elections will be held on July 25, and political tensions are running high. Among the dead lay Nawab Siraj Raisani, of the BAP — Raisani was up for provincial election as the BAP leader and candidate. His son was killed by an explosive attack in Mastung in 2011.
Mastung is less than an hour’s drive from Quetta, the capital of the province of Balochistan and home to over a million people.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan has denied the growth of ISIS in their country time and time again, but their presence there has been slowly but undeniably growing in recent years — in early April, four Christians were killed in Balochistan as well, another attack claimed by ISIS. Both Balochistan and some parts of Sindh have seen an increased number of suspected ISIS attacks. Many are watching to see how the government will respond to this outright claim by ISIS of the suicide bombing.
The last attack of this magnitude was in 2014 when 141 people were killed (132 of them children from an Army Public School) by the Pakistani Taliban.
This attack is on top of the suicide bombing on Thursday, which was not carried out by ISIS, but the Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP), or the Pakistani Taliban (who are not to be confused with the Taliban most from the U.S. are familiar with, the Afghan Taliban whose goals lie in Afghanistan). This attack killed 20 people, wounded approximately 63, and among the dead was Haroon Bilour, of the Awami National Party (a separate party from the National Awami Party) who was also up for local election.
This most recent bombing in Pakistan happened just before Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam landed in Pakistan, and would face charges in regards to corruption for actions exposed by the Panama Papers. He was sentenced to ten years in prison, and his daughter seven years, and son-in-law one year. Nawaz Sharif was also fined over $10.5 million, and Maryam was fined $2.6 million. They were arrested in Lahore upon landing on a flight from London.
Featured image: Pakistani troops carry the casket, wrapped in a national flag, of provincial candidate Siraj Raisani, who was killed in the Friday’s suicide bombing in Mastung, during a funeral prayer in Quetta, Pakistan, Saturday, July 14, 2018. | AP Photo/Arshad Butt