Death toll in IS-claimed Pakistan blast jumps to 128

Pakistan: At least 70 people, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate, killed in blast

Pakistan: At least 70 people, including Balochistan Awami Party candidate, killed in blast

He said at least 32 were wounded in the bombing in Mastung town, near the Balochistan capital of Quetta.

Uniformed men escorted the Sharifs, who were sentenced in absentia on corruption charges last week, from their airplane after it touched down in the central city of Lahore at around 8:45 p.m. (1645 GMT), a Reuters reporter on board said.

In a video message on Friday reportedly from aboard his aircraft en route to Pakistan, Sharif said he was returning knowing he would be taken directly to prison.

The death toll from a suicide bombing at an election rally in Pakistan's southwest has risen to 128, a government official has confirmed.

Sharif and his daughter Maryam were expected to be taken into custody when they arrived in Lahore on a flight from London via Abu Dhabi late Friday.

The attack was the most lethal since Taliban militants assaulted a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014, killing over 150 people, mostly children, and one of the deadliest in Pakistan's long struggle with militancy.

All roads leading to the airport and entry points into Lahore from adjoining areas were barricaded to prevent a large turnout of PML (N) supporters at the airport.

Pakistani and global rights groups have accused the military of seeking to maintain its influence in Pakistani politics by keeping Sharif out of power. Hospital officials said Friday that the toll in that attack had risen to 22.

There are fears of more violence in the run-up to polling day.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif said that the attack has raised question over the state of security in the country.

The bombing was the third incident of election-related violence this week.

The explosion targeted candidate Akram Khan Durrani, who escaped unhurt, police said.

Durrani is contesting the election from NA-35 (Bannu) on a MMA ticket against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. He is a candidate of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an election alliance of radical religious groups.

Siraj's teenage son, Akmal Raisani, had also been killed in an attack during a football match in the same district in 2011.

Caretaker Chief Minister Dost Mohammad Khan condemned the incident and summoned an emergency meeting to discuss the security situation in the aftermath of the attack.

"There seems to be a conspiracy to sabotage the 25 July elections but the people of Pakistan will not allow any design meant to target these historic elections to succeed", he tweeted.

"The Pakistani authorities have a duty to protect the rights of all Pakistanis during this election period - their physical security and their ability to express their political views freely, regardless of which party they belong to", said Omar Waraich, deputy South Asia director at Amnesty International.