Mourners gathered Saturday to bury their dead in southwest Pakistan after a political rally in one of the nation's deadliest attacks killed 128 people and highlighted the ongoing security challenges after years of dramatic improvement.
The suicide bombing of the Islamic state in the city of Mastung, near the provincial capital Quetta in Baluchistan, was the last in a series of bomb attacks on campaign events in the last week and sparked fears of further violence ahead of July 25 nationwide polls.
The hospitals in the region were placed under "emergency" management after being overwhelmed yesterday. Around 150 people were also injured in the explosion – many of them were still in critical condition after a head trauma.
"We have laid down emergencies in the hospitals and canceled doctors 'and paramedics' holidays," said Baloch's Minister of the Interior, Agha Umar Bungalzai, to AFP.
The Haider Shako Provincial Minister of the Interior added that additional security forces were deployed in "sensitive areas" and warned politicians to remain "vigilant".
Among the dead was Siraj Raisani, who ran for a provincial seat with the newly formed local Baluchistan Awami Party (BAP).
On Saturday, the BAP suspended the campaign-related events and asked its supporters to observe mourning for three days.
The attack was the deadliest, since the Taliban attacked a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 and killed more than 150 people, mostly children, and one of the deadliest in Pakistan's long struggle with militancy.
The blast came in hours after four people were killed and 39 were injured when a bomb hidden in a motorcycle exploded near a convoy of another politician in Bannu near the border with Afghanistan.
The politician – Akram Khan Durrani, a candidate of the MMA party – survived.
No group has yet taken responsibility for this attack.
And on Tuesday, a bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban targeted an Awami National Party (ANP) rally in the city of Peshawar. Local ANP leader Haroon Bilour was killed among the 22 dead.
Following the attacks, analysts demanded that the country's armed forces should focus on security challenges, not politics, amid countless allegations that the military was interfering in the country's upcoming polls.
"It has never been so true that Pakistan's security institute needs to focus on security, not politics," analyst Mosharraf Zaidi tweeted.
In an editorial by the English newspaper Dawn, the newspaper called on the authorities to "not only increase security, but also mobilize the entire intelligence apparatus to accomplish the task it is supposed to have, ie prevent attacks."
The bombings come at a time of growing political turmoil in Pakistan, when former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was arrested late Friday evening in the eastern city of Lahore as he seeks to revive the base of his embattled party – leading to new uncertainties in the coming legislatures ,
bur-mak-ga-ds / rma
The attack was the deadliest since a Taliban attack on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014, which left over 150 dead
The suicide bombing demanded by the Islamic State was the latest in a series of bombings aimed at campaigning and raising fears of further violence prior to July 25 nationwide polls