QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: The balloting for the National and four provincial assemblies in Pakistan went largely peaceful on Wednesday, barring Balochistan where 37 people, including three army troops and six policemen, were martyred and over 80 injured in two incidents of terrorism.
However, minor incidents of scuffles, brawls and exchange of hot words between the supporters of different political parties were reported from all over the country. In Quetta, 33 people, including six policemen, perished and over 70 injured in a suicide attack outside a polling station at 10:55am.
The suicide bomber blew himself up when the police and FC personnel stopped him from entering the Tameer-e-Nau polling station near the Eastern Bypass.
The explosion was so powerful that its sound was heard several kilometers away, smashing windowpanes of dozens of houses. A thick cloud of smoke hung over the main gate of the complex, said an eye witness. The dead and injured were strewn across the spot. People were seen running for safety and crying for help.
The Edhi Foundation ambulances rushed to the spot and shifted the dead and injured to the Civil Hospital where an emergency was declared. According to rescue officials, 16 people breathed their last on the spot, while 17 others succumbed to their injuries at hospitals. As many as 70 people sustained multiple injuries in the explosion. The condition of some of the injured was declared precarious till late night, hospital sources told The News.
The Balochistan chief minister summoned a report on the incident and instructed the authorities to provide top medical facilities to the injured. In the second attack in Buleda, three security personnel and a teacher, who was part of the election staff, were martyred in an ambush.
The incident happened as the army was escorting the polling staff of NA-271 Buleda, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. During the exchange of fire, three personnel were martyred, while 14 were wounded, including 10 personnel of security forces.
Imran, aged 21 from Dera Bugti, 25-year-old Sepoy Jahanzeb from Chakwal, 23-year-old Sepoy Akmal from Haripur and a polling staff school teacher Safiullah were martyred in the attack. The 10 critically wounded persons were shifted to Karachi, while four with minor injuries were taken to the DHQ Turbat.
Also two people were injured during an incident of firing at a polling station in Naseerabad, while 15 people were injured when a clash took place between the workers of PTI and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) in Bhatti Mohallah area of Jafarabad district. Besides one person died in a grenade attack in Khuzdar.
Balochistan has seen violence during the election campaigning, when earlier this month, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a political rally, killing 149 people, including the candidate Siraj Raisani of the BAP.
Citing security concerns, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) suspended the internet and cellphone services in several districts of Balochistan. The Secretary ECP, Babar Yaqub, told reporters that the polling stations, staff and even candidates faced life threats.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad, the situation became highly charged in NA-52 when the PML-N workers and activists got in a foul mood. As a result, the ICT administration immediately dispatched contingents of the army and police to defuse the situation.
In Rawalpindi, some incidents of violence, scuffles and brawls were reported from some polling stations. Earlier, on Tuesday the government completed the strategic deployment of Pakistan Army and the Rangers in support of police at all the polling stations in Islamabad and Rawalpindi like elsewhere in the country, who also carried out a Flag March in the federal capital.
As many as 33 people were injured in different incidents of political clashes on the election day in Sukkur, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Nausharoferoz, Ghotki and Shikarpur.
Agencies add: In Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a man was shot dead and two wounded during an exchange of fire between the supporters of two opposing political parties.
In the Khanewal district of the Punjab, one man was shot dead and another injured when two political groups clashed in NA-153.
In Rajanpur, several people were injured during a clash between the die-hard workers of PML-N and PTI. Two political groups also clashed in Gujranwala.
In PP-113, Faisalabad, the supporters of PML-N candidate Rana Sanaullah quarreled with the PTI workers. As a result, some workers from both parties were injured.
In NA-109 and NA-106, PML-N and PTI workers pelted each other with bricks, causing injuries to men on both the sides.
Ten political workers were injured in two clashes in Toba Tek Singh. In NA-111, four political workers were injured in a scuffle between the supporters of PML-N candidates Khalid Javed Warraich and Amjad Ali Warraich.
One person was killed and two others wounded in firing at the PTI camp in Swabi during the polling. Police said three persons — Shahzeb, Mukhtiar and Saleem — were wounded when the Awami National Party (ANP) workers allegedly opened fire on them after a clash in Nawan Kilay in PK-47 constituency.
Seven people were injured in clashes between two rival political groups at a women's polling station in Khipro in Sanghar district of Sindh. The dispute started between voters of the PPP and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) at a polling station in Yamin Hingorjo after a woman was stopped from casting vote on technical reasons.
Another clash took place between the PPP and GDA workers in Chak No 1 near Golarchi town of Badin district, leaving five people injured.
Seven people were injured in a clash between the supporters of GDA candidate Shehzad Mehar and independent candidate Ameer Jatoi in Shikarpur.