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Pakistan’s already troubled election just got hit by a polling station suicide bomb

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its official Amaq news agency.
Getty Images

Pakistan’s hugely divisive election was rocked Wednesday by a polling station suicide bomber who killed at least 31 and left dozens injured. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via its official Amaq news agency.

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 the city of Quetta. Early reports suggested the target had been a police van parked outside the school.


The bombing is just one of a number violent incidents that have marred the vote, despite the deployment of a record number of security personnel, including more than 370,000 members of the military.

The election is a contest between the PTI candidate Imran Khan, a former cricket star who has run a campaign against corruption, and the jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whose powerful Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is currently run by his brother Shehbaz Sharif.

The election has been overshadowed by claims that the military has exerted its influence to distort the race in favor of Khan, by censoring the media, intimidating voters and disrupting opposition campaigns.

The PML-N Wednesday sought an extension to the voting deadline from the Election Commission of Pakistan after it complained of delays because only a few people were being let into polling stations at a time. The commission denied the request.

Quetta is the largest city in the province of Balochistan, scene of much of the pre-election violence, including a bombing in the town of Mastung — also claimed by Islamic State — that killed 153 people, including local politician Siraj Raisani.

READ: What you need to know about Pakistan’s dirtiest election in years

Here are some of the issues already impacting election day in Pakistan:

  • A PTI activist was shot dead and two others injured after a clash with workers of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swabi district.
  • A man was shot dead and another was injured when two political groups clashed in Punjab's Khanewal district.


  • A policeman was killed and three others wounded after a hand grenade was hurled by unidentified assailants at a polling station in the village of Koshk, in Khuzdar district.
  • The Pakistan Peoples Party has written to the electoral commission claiming vote rigging outside a female-only polling station in Shareef Khana, where the party claims “a person named Shamsul Haq and his wife Kulsoom are openly distributing money for an opponent candidate.”
  • Journalists claim that security forces are stopping them from entering polling stations.

  • Khan may be in trouble for casting his vote in front of television cameras, with the Election Commission confirming it is looking into the incident, indicating it would be a violation of the secrecy of the ballot and the vote may be rendered invalid.

Cover image: Pakistani security personnel gather at the site of a suicide attack near a polling station in Quetta on July 25, 2018. (BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)