Bomb kills over 30 as Pakistanis cast votes

At least 29 people are dead in a bombing near a polling center in Pakistan, where voting is underway in a general election.
A Pakistani security official inspecting the scene of a suspected suicide bomb attack outside a polling station in Quetta yesterday. At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured in the incident.
A Pakistani security official inspecting the scene of a suspected suicide bomb attack outside a polling station in Quetta yesterday. At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured in the incident.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide bomb attack on a polling station in restive south-west Pakistan as millions voted in a nationwide election.

Shoes and charred vehicles littered the blood-smeared road near the polling station in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta yesterday, as the dead and injured were shuttled to hospital accompanied by distraught loved ones.

Officials said the bomber was trying to enter the polling station when police intervened and the attacker detonated his explosives.

"Suddenly, there was a huge blast. I was flung on the ground and I thought that I was about to die," madrasah teacher Hafiz Kareem said from his hospital bed.

Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, said the death toll had risen to 31, with 70 injured.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, its latest assault on Balochistan, Pakistan's poorest and most volatile province that struggles with multiple Islamist and separatist insurgencies.

But voters appeared undeterred, returning to polling booths soon after. "Bombings keep on happening and life also goes on here. I am voting," said Mr Abdul Razzaq, 50.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2018, with the headline 'Bomb kills over 30 as Pakistanis cast votes'. Print Edition | Subscribe