Dozens killed in Pakistan terror strike targeting political rally

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(CNN) — At least 85 people have died in a suicide attack in Pakistan that targeted the convoy of a political candidate in this month’s general election, according to regional Health Minister Faiz Kakar.

Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, who was campaigning for an assembly seat in the southern province of Balochistan, was killed in the bomb blast along with dozens of others, Balochistan Home Secretary Haider Ali Shikoh told CNN.

Kakar told CNN that at least 120 were also injured in the blast, which occurred in the Mastung area, close to the provincial capital Quetta. It is the deadliest terror strike in Pakistan this year.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in an email. CNN cannot immediately authenticate the assertion.

The director of civil defense, Muhammad Aslam Tareen, told CNN that eight to 10 kilograms of explosives were used in the attack.

Another strike in Pakistan on Friday targeted former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Akram Khan Durrani’s convoy in Bannu while it traveled from one political rally to the next.

Four people were killed and 32 others were injured in the bombing, which took place in North Waziristan, close to the border with Afghanistan. Candidate Duranni survived.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack in North Waziristan.

The violence comes the same day as former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returns to Pakistan to face 10 years’ imprisonment on corruption-related charges.

His conviction last week dealt a blow to his party’s prospects in the election and shifted the political landscape just three weeks before the vote.

Earlier Friday, authorities in Lahore, Punjab Province, were preparing for mass protests in support of the Sharifs, who party members say have been unfairly targeted.

With each attack, fears of violence ahead of the election are rising. On Tuesday, at least 20 people died and 63 were injured in a suicide attack in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, for which the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

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