70 killed, 120 hurt in Pakistan election campaign bombing

Shahbaz Sharif brother of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who now heads the Pakistan Muslim League addresses a news conference in Lahore Pakistan Thursday

At least four people were killed and 10 injured in an explosion near a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) convoy headed back from an election rally here on Friday morning.

The attacks underscored the fragility of Pakistan's dramatic improvement in security and raised fears ahead of the vote. Baluchistan's caretaker health minister, Faiz Kakar and the Deputy Commissioner of Mastung, Habib Baluch confirmed that BAP leader Raisani had been killed along with 69 other people in the blast.

Police had earlier said that more than 1000 people were in attendance at the rally.

According to senior provincial official Saeed Jamali, the bomber detonated in the middle of a compound where a political meeting was taking place.

Balochistan Awami Party candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was scheduled to contest the election against his brother, died in the blast. "Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta", District Police Officer Mohammad Ayub Achakzai said.

Former Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani's convoy was targeted, Dawn reported. No group has yet claimed responsibility. Haroon Bilour, a party leader, and 21 others were killed.

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Following the series of attacks, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season. Thousands flocked to his funeral the next day.

Pakistan's caretaker government launched a crackdown on political gatherings on Friday as Sharif, who was ousted by the Supreme Court previous year and convicted in absentia of corruption a week ago, was flying back to rally his party ahead of the general elections.

Earlier, RPO Karim Khan informed Geo News that the explosion took place 50 metres away from the site of a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) rally in Haved locality, adding that 40 policemen were deployed at the venue for security duties.

The law and order had suddenly deteriorated ahead of elections despite claims by the government and security forces that terrorism has been wiped out of the country.

Analysts warn however that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and militants retain the ability to carry out attacks.

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