At least 29 people were killed and several others injured in blasts and clashes on Wednesday across Pakistan as millions turned up to vote for the general and assembly elections, officials said.
Several reports media said more than 28 people were killed in the NA-260 constituency of Quetta, the capital of the troubled Balochistan province, in an attack targeting a police van. Television images showed a charred police vehicle, cordoned off by security officials. (Live updates)
“(The bomber) was trying to enter the polling station. When police tried to stop him he blew himself up,” a local administration official in Quetta, Hashim Ghilzai, told news agency AFP.
Supporters of two rival parties exchanged fire outside a polling station in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, killing a worker of former cricketer Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and injuring two others, news agency PTI reported citing the police.
It added that the Khan’s party worker was killed as activists clashed with Awami National Party supporters at the polling station in Nawan Kali of Swabi district after voting opened for the general elections.
In Larkana, in the southern province of Sindh and the home of the Bhutto family, at least three people were injured after an explosion was reported outside a polling station in NA-200 constituency, near Shah Muhammad School.
Deputy inspector general (DIG) Akbar Riaz told Geo News the cracker blast targeted a Pakistan People’s party (PPP) camp and added polling continued despite the attack.
Clashes between workers of opposing parties were also reported from several areas.
The military has deployed more than 370,000 troops to ensure security on the polling day amid fears of further attacks after a series of bombings killed hundreds of people during campaign rallies.
Opinion polls in the run-up to the Pakistan assembly election have put Khan’s PTT a little ahead of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N) and the Pakistan Peoples’ Party of Bilawal Bhutto in the third place.
Thousands of candidates belonging to extremist and militant sectarian groups are also contesting the general elections in Pakistan.
To gain a majority, a party needs 137 of the 272 elected National Assembly seats. A further 70 seats for women and minorities are awarded proportionally based on the voting percentages.
No Pakistani prime minister has ever completed their term.