Enthusiastic voting in northwest Pakistan despite bombs

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Bomb attacks wounded 12 people outside polling stations in northwest Pakistan, police said, but many voters were not deterred from casting their ballots in Saturday's landmark polls.

The vote marks the first time that an elected civilian administration has completed a full term and handed power to another through the ballot box in a country where there have been three military coups and four military rulers.

In the region's main city of Peshawar, police said a bomb planted on a motorcycle and targeting women voters wounded eight people.

"The motorcycle was parked outside a women's polling station," senior police officer Shafiullah Khan told AFP.

A suicide bomber targeting another polling station in a Peshawar suburb was spotted by police and prevented from entering the building. He blew himself up without wounding anyone else, policeman Khan told AFP.

"The target was a polling station, which was already declared as highly sensitive. The bomber blew himself after police identified and shouted at him," he said.

In the district of Mardan, another four people were injured in a bomb blast close to a polling station. Police described it as a "low intensity timed-device".

But despite the attacks and threats of suicide bombings from the Taleban, an AFP reporter saw queues of enthusiastic people, charged up and determined to vote.

In Badhaber, a militant stronghold on the edge of Peshawar that has been repeatedly bombed, more than 300 people lined up at a polling station to wait to cast their votes, an AFP reporter said.

In Peshawar, hundreds of people queued up, some of them in wheelchairs, to cast their votes.

"We have already spent a lot of time being scared of terror threats. Today, we have to take a decision and bury this state of fear once and for all," said shopkeeper Suhail Ahmad in Peshawar.

"We have to vote for peace and the future of Pakistan. People must get out of their houses and cast their votes," he added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.