Blast near MMA candidate Akram Durrani's convoy kills three

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A suicide bomber killed 128 people at an election rally in southwestern Pakistan in the second election-related attack on Friday, officials said, amid growing tensions over ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif's return ahead of the July 25 vote.

Witnesses said that Siraj Raisani of the regional Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) was preparing to address hundreds of supporters in the Mastung district when the bomber near the stage detonated explosives strapped to his body. Another senior official, Qaim Lashari, also confirmed it was a suicide blast.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement, the former president condemned the attack in which Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) candidate Nawabzada Siraj Raisani, his son and dozens of other political workers were killed and several others were injured.

"Raisani succumbed to wounds while he was being shifted to Quetta", District Police Officer Mohammad Ayub Achakzai said.

Mr Raisani was the brother of the former Baluchistan chief minister, Aslam Raisani.

At least thirty six people were killed or wounded in an explosion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan on Friday, the security officials said.

The blast in the town of Mastung, near the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, came hours after another bomb killed at least four people at a campaign rally in Bannu in the country's northwest. He later visited the injured in a hospital in Bannu and said that his vehicle was damaged in the attack.

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The bombing was the biggest attack in Pakistan in over a year.

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Local media confirmed the death toll, quoting Balochistan's Home Minister Agha Umar Bangalzai.

The blast occurred just hours after a candidate for the national legislature, Akram Durrani, survived an assassination attempt during an election rally in his native northwestern city of Bannu. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the ANP rally.

Pakistan's caretaker government has launched a crackdown on political gatherings.

Haroon Bilour, a senior secular politician and candidate for a provincial assembly seat, was among those killed in Tuesday's bombing.

Following the series of attacks this week, activists called for Pakistani authorities to remain vigilant to protect candidates during the final days of the campaign season.

Analysts warn however that Pakistan has yet to tackle the root causes of militancy.

The election will pit the PML-N against its main rival, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, a party led by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan.

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