Sharif in custody while 132 die in electoral violence in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in custody on Saturday, a day after the deadliest attacks in Pakistan's turbulent election campaign killed more than 130 people, including one candidate.

In the southwestern province of Balochistan, a suicide bomber killed 128 people on Friday, including a politician who ran for a provincial legislature. Four other people died in an attack in northwest Pakistan, spreading panic in the country.

The attacks came hours before Sharif returned from London along with his daughter Maryam to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges, anti-corruption officials said. . Maryam Sharif faces seven years in prison.

He was taken into custody to serve his sentence, however, he is expected to appeal and seek bail. It was not clear when his appeal would be filed, but he has until Monday.

In the southern city of Mastung, candidate Siraj Raisani and 127 others were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up among dozens of supporters who had gathered at a rally.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement made on its Aamaq news agency.

The group gave no reason for the attack that killed Raisani, who was running for the elections at the Awami party in Balochistan. ticket.

Raisani is the brother of the former prime minister of Baluchistan, Aslam Raisani. The Minister of the Interior, Agha Umar Bungalzai, told The Associated Press that another 300 people were injured in the bombings on Friday.

The US State Department strongly condemned this week's attacks on political candidates and their supporters in Pakistan.

cowardly attempts to deprive the Pakistani people of their democratic rights, "he said." We will continue to support the people of Pakistan and the wider South Asian region in their fight against terrorism. "

Meanwhile, Sharif arrived to the eastern city of Lahore from London, where he visited his sick wife when it was a Pakistani court, he and his daughter were convicted of corruption.

Sharif's son-in-law is currently serving a one-year prison sentence for the same charge, arising from the purchase of luxury apartments in Britain that, according to the court, were purchased with illegally acquired products.

Before his return, the police swept Lahore, arresting dozens of workers of the League party Muslim of Sharif's Pakistan to avoid being greeted at the airport.

Barbed wires crossed some roads leading to the Lahore airport On Friday and the icadas were placed at the edge of the road, ready to close the main boulevards in case the crowds began to gather.

In a video message reportedly Friday from his plane en route to Pakistan, Sharif said he would return knowing he would be taken directly to prison.

Sharif has been banned from participating in politics, and his brother Shahbaz Sharif now heads his Pakistan Muslim League and is campaigning for his re-election on July 25.

In a televised appeal to supporters in London earlier this week, Sharif said he was not afraid of prison and asked people to vote for his party. He also took the opportunity to criticize again the powerful Pakistani army, which ruled the country directly or indirectly for most of its 71-year history, saying Pakistan now has a "state superior to the state."

During his tenure, Sharif criticized the participation of the military in civil affairs and his efforts in the fight against extremists.

Pakistani and international human rights groups have accused the military of trying to maintain their influence in Pakistani politics by keeping Sharif out of power. The army denied accusations that the Electoral Commission of Pakistan had requested their help to carry out the elections. The army will deploy 350,000 security personnel in polling stations throughout the country on election day.

Underlining the security threat were the attacks on Friday, the first of which killed four people in the northwest near the election rally of a politician from an Islamist party.

The explosion targeted candidate Akram Khan Durrani, who escaped unharmed, and wounded 20 people, said local police chief Rashid Khan.

Durrani appears in the July 25 vote against the popular former legislator Imran Khan. He is a candidate of MMA, an electoral alliance of radical religious groups.

The attacks came days after a suicide bomber sent by the Pakistani Taliban killed secular politician Haroon Ahmed Bilour and 20 others at his rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar.


Sattar reported from Quetta, Pakistan and Associated Press writers Riaz Khan in Peshawar and Munir Ahmed and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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