An Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polling station killing 31 people in Pakistan’s southwestern Quetta city on Wednesday and four others were murdered in poll-related violence as the country went to polls to elect a new government.
The suicide bomber blew himself up after he was stopped from entering the Tameer-i-Nau Education Complex school, which is serving as a polling station in ‘sensitive’ NA-260 constituency in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, police said.
Earlier reports had said the bomber targeted a police van.
At least 31 people, including five policemen, were killed and 60 others injured in the blast in the Bhosa Mandi area of the provincial capital.
The bomber wanted to enter the polling station near Quetta’s Eastern Bypass but failed due to heavy presence of the Frontier Corps and the police in and outside the polling station, senior police officer Ejaz Goraya said.
“The bomber then blew himself up near a police van outside the polling station. I can confirm that the suicide attack has left 31 people dead and around 32 have been shifted to the Civil Hospital,” he said.
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Pakistan Army has stationed over 3,70,000 personnel across the country to ensure security for the election, bolstered by an additional 4,50,000 police.
In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Swabi district, supporters of two rival political parties exchanged fire outside a polling station, killing a worker of former cricketer Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and injuring two others, police said.
The PTI worker was killed as party activists clashed with Awami National Party (ANP) workers outside a polling station for NA-19 (Swabi II) and PK-47 (Swabi V) in Nawan Kali area.
Another person was killed in firing outside a Mirpurkhas polling station in NA-219 Dighri area, the report said.
In a separate incident, one person was killed while five others injured in a cracker blast outside a political camp in Larkana.
One PML-N activist killed in Khanewal scuffle.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Shahbaz Sharif has condemned the deadly suicide attack in Quetta. “My profound condolences to the bereaved families,” he said.
PTI chief Imran Khan also condemned the terrorist attack.
“Condemnable terrorist attack in Quetta by enemies of Pak seeking to disrupt our democratic process. Saddened by the loss of innocent lives. Pakistanis must defeat the terrorists’ design by coming out in strength to cast their vote,” Khan tweeted.
The attack in the troubled province of Balochistan is the second major attack this month after nearly 150 people were killed and some 200 injured when a suicide bomber attacked an election corner meeting of the Baluchistan Awami Party in Mastung district.
Pakistanis are voting to choose a new government in the second democratic transition of power in the nation’s 70-year history amid accusations of manipulation by the powerful army and concerns over the participation of Islamic hardliners in large numbers.
The voting started at 8 AM local time on more than 85,000 polling stations. The counting of votes will be done on the spot soon after the conclusion of the polling process at 6 PM and results will be announced within 24 hours.
More than 30 political parties have fielded their candidates for the elections.