At least 70 people, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate, killed in blast

At least 70 people, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate, killed in blast

Mr Raisani was the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani. "There seems to be a conspiracy to sabotage the 25 July elections but the people of Pakistan will not allow any design meant to target these historic elections to succeed", he continued. No group has yet claimed responsibility.

Pakistan's third major political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party, joined the criticism of the crackdown, with its prime ministerial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari questioning why Sharif's supporters would be prevented from gathering.

"These attacks are cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights", said State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had reportedly claimed responsibility behind the attack.

It came hours after four people were killed and 39 injured when a bomb hidden inside a motorcycle detonated close to another politician's convoy in Bannu on Friday, near the border with Afghanistan.

Baluchistan Home Minister Agha Omer Bangulzai told Reuters that the death toll in the attack had risen to 128 people, with over 150 wounded.

The group gave no reason for the bombing that killed Siraj Raisani, who was running for the election on the Baluchistan Awami Party ticket. Police say the attack took place 50 metres away from Durrani's election rally.

Initial investigation suggested it was a suicide attack, Lashari added.

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"Everyone was crying for help", Munir Shahwani, a local journalist said, adding that the injured were immediately shifted to Nawab Ghous Bakhsh Raisani Hospital in Mastung and the CMH in Quetta.

"Initially the death toll was not high but many critically injured persons including Siraj Raisani passed away in hospitals", Balochistan's caretaker health minister Faiz Kakar said.

Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajawa condemned the heinous terrorist attack in Mashtung which killed at least 85 people, including an election candidate and more than 150 others injured.

On July 10, a suicide bomb blast killed Awami National Party leader Haroon Bilour and 19 people in Peshawar's Yaktoot area.

The MMA is a coalition of religious parties based in Pakistan's northwest.

Local media has reported two separate minor bomb attacks in Balochistan's Khuzdar district and Bannu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during the month.

Following the series of attacks this week, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.

Analysts warn, however, that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of extremism, and terrorists retain the ability to carry out attacks. The military denied the accusations, and said its assistance had been requested by Pakistan's election commission.

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