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Δευτέρα, 4 Μαρτίου, 2024

Pakistan election: Counting of votes underway in polls marred by violence and internet shutdown

Περισσότερα Νέα

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At least nine people were killed in Pakistan in poll-related violence and attacks as the country’s 240 million population votes to elect their new parliament and prime minister in high-stake elections.

The attack took place in northwest Pakistan’s Dera Ismail Khan as gunmen set off a bomb and then opened fire at a police van, police officials said. At least two others were injured in the attack.

Khalid Khan, local police official, said casualties include officers assigned to security duty in the district for the parliamentary elections. No one claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Mobile network and data services have also been blocked in several parts of Pakistan as voters complained of no internet reception outdoors.

The elections, already hit by accusations of rigging and unfair conditions for main opponent Imran Khan, are seeing at least 44 political parties vying for a share of the 266 seats that are up for grabs in the National Assembly, or the lower house of parliament.

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An additional 70 seats are reserved for women and minorities in the 336-seat house.

Voting started at 8am local time as polling stations opened for both national and provincial assemblies and is set to conclude by 5pm.

Internet and mobile phone services shut in Pakistan in ‘ominous start’ to election day

Mobile phone and internet services have been suspended in Pakistan as millions of voters head to polling booths to cast their votes amid high security cover.

The Interior Ministry announced on Thursday that the decision to “temporarily suspend mobile services across the country” was due to “deteriorating security situation”.

Nine killed as violence mars Pakistan election
At least nine people, including two children, were killed in militant attacks in Pakistan today as the country voted in a general election after suspending mobile phone services and closing some land borders to maintain law and order.

The interior ministry said it took the security steps after at least 26 people were killed in two explosions near electoral candidates’ offices in the southwestern province of Balochistan on Wednesday. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for those attacks.

“As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country precious lives have been lost, security measures are essential to maintain the law and order situation and deal with possible threats,” the ministry said in a post on messaging platform X.

Thousands of troops were deployed on the streets and at polling stations across the country as voting commenced and borders with Iran and Afghanistan were temporarily closed.

Despite the heightened security, five policemen were killed in a bomb blast and firing on a patrol in the Kulachi area of Dera Ismail Khan district in the northwest, authorities said. Another person died in firing on a security forces vehicle in Tank, about 40 km (25 miles) to the north.

UN rights body expresses alarm at ‘pattern of harassment’ of Imran Khan’s party ahead of Pakistan polls
The UN human rights agency voiced concern over Pakistan’s crackdown on members of Imran Khan’s party ahead of parliamentary election to be held on Thursday.

“We are disturbed…by the pattern of harassment, arrests and prolonged detentions of leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and their supporters, which has continued during the election period,” said Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for human rights.

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