133 dead after two separate attacks on Pakistan political rallies

July 14, 2018 | By | Reply More

Pakistan was in shock Saturday after a suicide blast killed 133 people, shaking confidence in security just as the dramatic arrest of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif ratcheted political tensions higher ahead of nationwide polls.

Pakistan political ralliesSharif’s highly-anticipated return from London and subsequent arrest for corruption was overshadowed as the carnage in Mastung, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, unfolded late Friday.

Newspapers branded the blast — one of the deadliest in Pakistan’s history — a “massacre”, as analysts and media called on the military to, in the words of the daily Dawn, “do the job they are meant to do — ie preventing attacks”.

One week ago, Sharif was sentenced in abstentia to 10 years in prison on corruption charges. He was transferred to the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to Islamabad, after landing in Lahore Friday. Media reports said he was being held in a prison there.

Sharif has claimed he is the victim of a military conspiracy, and there are widespread allegations from the media, politicians and analysts that the powerful security establishment is meddling in the polls.

Mobile signals were blocked and police deployed in the eastern city of Lahore where Sharif’s supporters had gathered as he landed.

Soon after, the scale of the destruction in Mastung — hundreds of kilometres (miles) to the southwest, where an Islamic State suicide bomber had detonated at a crowded political rally — began to emerge.

“It has never been more true that Pakistan’s security establishment needs to focus on security, not politics,” tweeted analyst Mosharraf Zaidi as mourners gathered to bury their dead in Mastung Saturday. More funerals were planned for the afternoon.

Hospitals in the area have been placed under “emergency” management after being overwhelmed in the hours after the attack, with around 150 also wounded in the blast — many still in critical condition.

“I could hear voices screaming. I tried to get up and I saw people trying to run towards the gate. They were trampling over dead bodies,” survivor Rustam Raisani told from his hospital bed.

“We have imposed emergency (management) in the hospitals and cancelled the vacations of the doctors and paramedics,” Balochistan home minister Agha Umar Bungalzai told.

The provincial home secretary Haider Shako added that extra security forces had been deployed in “sensitive areas” and warned politicians to remain “vigilant”.

A caretaker government has been installed ahead of the July 25 election, and prime minister Nasirul Mulk declared Sunday would be a day of mourning.

Press journalist for HRO media – Ignacio Damigo reports.

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Category: International

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