Pakistan turnout 30% by midday: Official estimate

ISLAMABAD (AFP/AP) - Turnout in Pakistan's landmark elections on Saturday was around 30 per cent by midday and is expected to rise to 60 per cent before the polls close, the election commission estimated.

"The turnout is really encouraging. Now we are at 30 per cent. We expect it will be close to 60 per cent at the end of the day," spokesman Khurshid Alam told AFP, saying the rate was higher than at the same point in the last election.

Overall turnout was 44 per cent during the 2008 polls.

Commentators had been divided on whether millions of enthusiastic first-time voters or Taleban threats would make turnout higher or lower than the last time.

Attacks on Saturday that have killed 22 people and wounded dozens more underlined the risks many people took just casting their ballots.

The violence was a continuation of what has been a brutal election season with more than 130 people killed in bombings and shootings. Some are calling this one of the deadliest votes in the country's history.

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