Pakistan blast kills at least 31 on election day, hospital says

Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N party wave party flags during an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi Pakistan

Thirty-one people are dead after a suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Quetta, Pakistan, during general election voting Wednesday for the third consecutive civilian government.

The bombing also wounded 35 people, with several reported to be in critical condition, raising concerns the death toll could rise further, said hospital official Jaffar Kakar, a doctor. Get the latest top stories, current affairs, sports, business, entertainment, politics, astrology, spirituality, and many more here only on ABP News.

About 371,000 soldiers have been stationed at polling stations across the country, almost five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, or PML-N, won in 2013, but he fell out with the military after questioning its links to some militant groups and seeking to make it subservient to parliament.

The US said it is "closely" monitoring the situation in Pakistan which goes to polls today, emphasising that it supports free, fair, transparent and accountable elections in the country.

Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N president who is hoping to become the next prime minister, was among the first to cast his vote in Lahore.

Amid the ongoing elections in Pakistan, a blast has been reported in Quetta's Eastern Bypass.

The PML-N, on the other hand, says it is the target of the alleged military machinations, with candidates under pressure and Sharif jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote.

There are 85,307 polling stations across Pakistan and more than 12,000 candidates are vying for 272 seats in parliament and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.

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Islamic State claimed responsibility for an explosion near a polling station in Quetta, Pakistan, on Wednesday, according to the group's AMAQ news agency.

According to reports, the government has closed the border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Chaman, Balochistan following the general elections. Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa cast his vote in Rawalpindi.

Officials had increased security across Pakistan for the election on Wednesday after deadly attacks in the final weeks of the campaign killed over 180 people, including three candidates.

PML-N's campaign was reinvigorated by the return to Pakistan of Nawaz Sharif, 68, who was earlier this month convicted and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison over the purchase of upscale London apartments using offshore companies in the mid 1990s.

Independent candidate Jibran Nasir said that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan supporters attacked a facilitation camp he had set up in Chandio Village in Karachi.

Asked about allegations that the Pakistan Army is meddling in the elections, the spokesperson said the U.S. will not comment on Pakistan's internal politics. A suicide bomber at an election rally in the Mastung district killed over 100 people earlier this month.

Many experts contend that it will be business as usual whoever wins the election, with the military - which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for much of its 71-year history - remaining Pakistan's de facto ruler.

Under Pakistani law, separate seats are reserved for women and for non-Muslim minorities, which comprise 4 per cent of the population.

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