A suicide bomber killed at least 29 people near a polling centre as Pakistanis voted on Wednesday in a knife-edge general election pitting cricket hero Imran Khan against the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Neither Khan nor Sharif is likely to win a clear majority in the too-close-to-call election, with results likely to be known by around 2 am local time on Thursday.
The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack that hospital officials said killed 29 people and wounded 35 in the western city of Quetta. Security sources said the bomber drove his motorcycle into a police vehicle.
About 106 million people were registered to vote in the polls, which closed at 6 pm.
Sharif’s party had called for voting to be extended by an hour, saying people were still lining up and could be turned away without casting ballots. TV channels said election officials denied the request.
About 3,71,000 soldiers have been stationed at polling stations across the country, nearly five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013.
Earlier this month, a suicide bomber killed 149 people at an election rally in the town of Mastung in Balochistan province. That attack was also claimed by Islamic State militants.