Election rally attack Pakistan’s second deadliest as toll hits 149

A suicide bomber detonated as local politician Siraj Raisani spoke to a crowd of supporters in southwestern Mastung district on Friday. Raisani was among those killed. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2018
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Election rally attack Pakistan’s second deadliest as toll hits 149

  • The latest toll 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

MASTUNG, Pakistan: The death toll from a suicide bombing that hit southwestern Pakistan on Friday has risen to 149, making it the second most lethal attack in the country’s history, officials said Sunday as top politicians joined a day of national mourning.
The attack claimed by the Daesh group was the latest in a series of deadly blasts at various election campaign events ahead of national polls on July 25.
A suicide bomber detonated as local politician Siraj Raisani spoke to a crowd of supporters in southwestern Mastung district on Friday. Raisani was among those killed.
The dead included nine children aged between six and 11, senior government official Qaim Lashari said Sunday, adding that 70 people remained in hospital with five in a critical condition.
The latest toll 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.
Authorities will publish adverts in local newspapers on Monday seeking information on bodies taken home directly after the latest attack and buried without informing police, Lashari said, meaning the official toll could rise again.
“We are trying our best to ascertain the exact data of those killed in the blast,” he told AFP.
Saeed Jamal, another senior government official, confirmed the latest death toll and number wounded in the attack.
Politicians including high-profile election candidate and former international cricketer Imran Khan visited provincial capital Quetta Sunday to pay their respects to the dead.
“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 came hours after another bomb killed at least four people at a campaign rally in Bannu in the country’s northwest. A third bomb killed 22 people at another rally in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Shahbaz Sharif, brother of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and rival to Khan, 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 Pakistan’s powerful military chief 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 was killed 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 Shoib, 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.


Official count shows Widodo reelected as Indonesian leader

Updated 21 May 2019
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Official count shows Widodo reelected as Indonesian leader

  • Widodo’s challenger for a second time, former general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept defeat and declared himself the winner last month
  • Police this month have arrested 31 Islamic militants they say planned to set off bombs during expected street protests against the election result
JAKARTA, Indonesia: The official count from last month’s Indonesian presidential election shows President Joko Widodo won 55.5% of the vote, the Election Commission said Tuesday, securing him a second term.
The formal result from the April 17 election was almost the same as the preliminary “quick count” results drawn from a sample of polling stations on election day.
Widodo’s challenger for a second time, former general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to accept defeat and declared himself the winner last month.
Thousands of police and soldiers are on high alert in the capital Jakarta, anticipating protests from Subianto’s supporters.
Subianto has alleged massive election fraud in the world’s third-largest democracy but hasn’t provided any credible evidence. Votes are counted publicly and the commission posts the tabulation form from each polling station on its website, allowing for independent verification.
Counting was completed just before midnight and the Election Commission announced the results early Tuesday before official witnesses from both campaigns.
“We reject the results of the presidential election,” said Azis Subekti, one of the witnesses for Subianto. “This refusal is a moral responsibility for us to not give up the fight against injustice, fraud, arbitrariness, lies, and any actions that will harm democracy.”
Under Indonesia’s election law, Subianto can dispute the results at the Constitutional Court.
He and members of his campaign team have said they will mobilize “people power” for days of street protests rather than appeal to the court because they don’t believe it will provide justice.
In a video released after results were announced, Subianto again refused to concede defeat but called on supporters to refrain from violence.
Police this month have arrested 31 Islamic militants they say planned to set off bombs during expected street protests against the election result.