31 killed in explosion at Pakistan polling station


31 killed in explosion at Pakistan polling station

The violence comes during a general election to bring about Pakistan’s third civilian government.

Pakistani volunteers and security officers visit the site of a bombing in Quetta (AP)
Pakistani volunteers and security officers visit the site of a bombing in Quetta (AP)

A suicide bomber has struck outside a crowded polling station in Pakistan’s south-western city of Quetta, killing 31 people.

The blast came as Pakistanis cast ballots in a general election meant to lead to the nation’s third consecutive civilian government.

The attack in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, also wounded 35 people and several were reported to be in critical condition, according to hospital doctor Jaffar Kakar.

A witness who was waiting to cast his ballot, Abdul Haleem, said he saw a motorcycle drive into the crowd of voters seconds before the explosion. He said his uncle was killed in the explosion.

“There was a deafening bang followed by thick cloud of smoke and dust and so much crying from the wounded people,” he said.

A man mourns the death of his family member at the site of the bombing (AP)

Baluchistan saw the worst violence of the election campaign earlier this month when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a political rally, killing 149 people, including candidate Siraj Raisani. Another 400 were wounded. Voting in that constituency has been suspended.

Citing security concerns, the election commission announced that internet and mobile phone services in several districts in Baluchistan have been suspended.

Election commission secretary Babar Yaqub told reporters that threats against polling stations, staff and even candidates have been received.

Hours earlier, militants lobbed grenades and opened fire at a military convoy escorting election staff and voting material in Baluchistan’s district of Turbat, killing four troops.

At the request of the election commission, Pakistan’s military is deploying 350,000 troops countrywide outside and inside polling stations.

Also on Wednesday, police said a shooting between supporters of two opposing political parties killed one person and wounded two in a village near the north-western city of Swabi.

Press Association

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+’://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js’;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, ‘script’, ‘twitter-wjs’);

(function() {
var zergnet = document.createElement(‘script’);
zergnet.type = ‘text/javascript’; zergnet.async = true;
zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https:” : “http:”) + ‘//www.zergnet.com/zerg.js?id=46430’;
var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0];
znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr);