Islamabad, Jul 25 (AP/UNB) — A Pakistan hospital official says an explosion outside crowded polling station in southwestern city of Quetta has killed 25 people and wounded 40. Jaffer Kakar, a doctor, says five policemen and two children are among the dead. He fears the death toll could rise as many of the wounded are in critical condition.
Wednesday's attack comes as Pakistanis vote in general elections for 270 members of the law-making National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.
Abdur Razzaq Cheema, the police chief in Quetta, Baluchistan's provincial capital, says the explosion took place when near the city's eastern bypass.
Baluchistan also saw the deadliest suicide bombing in the run-up to election day, with 149 people, including a provincial assembly candidate, killed at a campaign this month.
Pakistani police say a shooting between supporters of two opposing political parties has left one person dead and wounded two people in a village near the northwestern city of Sawabi.
It is the first violence on election day in Pakistan. Ahead of Wednesday's balloting, over 170 people — including three candidates running in the elections — were killed in suicide bombings in southwestern Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Police officer Khalid Hamdani says it's unclear what triggered the shootout between a group of supporters of the secular Awami National Party, which has often bbeen targeted by the Taliban, and the Tehrik-e-Insaf led by former cricket star Imran Khan, a center-right party.
Hamdani says the situation is now under control and voting is underway in Col Sher Khan village.
A hard-line Pakistani cleric who heads an alliance of religious parties and the country's parliament speaker have cast their ballots in the general elections underway in Pakistan.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman voted in the northwestern city of Dera Ismail Khan soon after polls opened on Wednesday.
His Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal is a potential threat to opposition leader, former cricket star Imran Khan's party in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Khan's party has ruled the province for the last five years.
Rehman appealed to citizens after casting his ballot to cast their votes with the full sense of responsibility so capable hands could take over the country.
Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the National Assembly, voted in the eastern city of Lahore.
Pakistan Muslim League chief Shahbaz Sharif cast his vote in the eastern city of Lahore soon after polls opened in national elections.
Sharif, the younger brother of disgraced ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, took over the ruling Pakistan Muslim League last year after his brother was found guilty of corruption. The ex-prime minister has since been sentenced to 10 years in jail, which he is serving while appealing the conviction.
The younger Sharif stood in line waiting his turn to enter the polling booth. In Pakistan, a candidate can run for elections in multiple seats. If the candidate wins more than one seat, a by-election will be held as a person can represent only one constituency.
Sharif marked his ballot for both the National and Punjab provincial Parliaments and is contesting elections in four National Assembly seats and in two Punjab provincial legislature seats.
Pakistanis began voting in a historic third straight election ending a campaign marred by widespread allegations of manipulation that local and international rights group say imperils the country's wobbly transition to democratic rule.
There are 85,307 polling stations across Pakistan and more than 11,000 candidates are vying for 270 seats in parliament and 570 seats in four provincial assemblies. Voting for two parliament seats and six seats in provincial assemblies has been postponed for a later date, due to attacks on candidates or disqualifications. One candidate in the Sindh provincial assembly was unopposed and has already secured that seat.
Under Pakistani law, separate seats are reserved for women and for non-Muslim minorities, who comprise 4 percent of the population.