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Monday Jul 16 2018

New video of Mastung election rally bombing surfaces as death toll hits 149


MASTUNG: A new video of the July 14 suicide blast that hit southwestern Pakistan obtained by Geo News late Sunday night shows views of the electoral meeting venue before the explosion as well as detonation taking place.

A suicide bomber had detonated as local politician Siraj Raisani, a candidate of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), spoke to a crowd of supporters in Mastung District. Raisani was among those killed.

The latest clip, however, shows the seconds just before blast when the BAP is meeting party workers and admirers and shaking their hands. Right after one of the attendees raises his mobile phone to record the moment — an action captured in the frame of the new video — the explosion hits, cutting the video to shaken shots of the aftermath.

Further, Qaim Lashari, the deputy commissioner (DC) for Mastung District, confirmed to Geo News that the death toll had risen to 149, making it one of the most lethal attacks in the country's history, as top politicians joined a day of national mourning.

At least 186 others were wounded, he said.

The district administration had finally compiled all the data of the casualties from the tragic suicide attack, Lashari said, adding that the reason it took them two days to do so was that the bodies of 18 of those martyred in the blast were never brought to the hospital but instead buried by their bereaved families.

The deceased include nine children aged between six and 11, the government official said, adding that 70 people remained in hospital, with five in a critical condition.

Relatives should contact the district administration for compensation, he stressed.

The attack comes as the latest in a series of deadly blasts at various election campaign events ahead of national polls on July 25. The toll, on the other hand, topped that of a 2007 bomb attack in Karachi targeting former premier Benazir Bhutto, which killed 139 people.

The country's worst-ever attack was an assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead, many of them children.

"We are trying our best to ascertain the exact data of those killed in the blast," Lashari had told AFP.

Saeed Jamal, another senior government official, had also confirmed the latest death toll and number of wounded in the attack.

'A huge tragedy'

Politicians, including high-profile election candidate Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) visited provincial capital Quetta on Sunday to pay their respects to the martyred.

"It was a huge tragedy," Khan told a press conference, calling for the military, police, and civilian government to prevent further attacks.

Friday's blast took place hours after another bomb killed at least four people earlier at a campaign rally in Bannu in the country's northwest. A third bomb killed 22 people at another rally in Peshawar on Tuesday.

Former provincial chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, also visited Quetta and called for the attack's culprits to face "exemplary" punishment.

The visits took place hours after funeral prayers were offered for Raisani in a ceremony attended by COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Raisani's body was then driven from Quetta to his ancestral home of Kanak, near where he was killed, for a second set of funeral prayers tightly guarded by paramilitary forces.

He was laid to rest beside the grave of his son Akmal, who died in a grenade attack in 2011. Raisani's father and other male relatives killed in tribal warfare are also all buried there.

One of the mourners in Kanak, Ali Ahmad, said: "No house in the area" had been unaffected by the attack.

"Every eye is tearful," he told AFP.

Two of his nephews had attended the rally in order to taste the cold sweet syrup that political parties often serve at such events, he said. They were both killed.

Mohammad Shoaib, who had attended the rally but escaped with just minor injuries, said the moments after the blast were "terrible".

"Everybody there, like me, was helpless — all they could do was wail or cry", he said through tears.

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