Alwaght- At least 88 people have been killed in two separate bomb attacks in Pakistan amid rising tensions as the country's elections date nears.
In the southwest town of Dringarh, about 35km south of the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, a suicide attacker targeted a rally on Friday, killing at least 84 people, said provincial home minister Agha Umar Bangulzai.
Among those killed was Baluchistan provincial assembly candidate Siraj Raisani, whose brother Nawab Aslam Raisani had served as the provincial chief minister from 2008 to 2013. The Mastung bombing was the latest — and deadliest — of a string of attacks targeting politically active persons ahead of the July 25 election.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Earlier on Friday, another explosion targeted an election rally in the northwest town of Bannu, police said, killing at least four people, and wounding 19 others.
The blast occurred just after a rally hosted by the JUI-F religious political party ended on Friday morning, said a police official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The rally was in the Huwaid area, and the explosion occurred as people were dispersing after the rally," said the official. "It was an IED (improvised explosive device) planted in a motorcycle and set off by remote control."
The rally was hosted by former provincial chief minister Akram Khan Durrani, a senior JUI-F leader who is running for a seat in Pakistan's upcoming polls. Durrani was unharmed, police said.
On Tuesday, prominent politician Haroon Bilour was killed in a suicide attack at a Peshawar rally that claimed 20 lives and wounded 69 others.
That attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban terrorist group, also called the Pakistan Taliban, which also claimed an attack that killed Bilour's father, a staunch opponent of the armed group, in 2012.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's bombing in Bannu. Following the attacks, activists have called for authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has also sought a detailed briefing from the National Counterterrorism Authority (Nacta) on the threats faced by politicians and candidates.