Islamabad/Karachi: Multiple blasts hit three Pakistani cities on Saturday as historic polls got underway in the country. At least 15 people are feared dead and many more have been injured, media reports said.
Two blasts in Pakistan's financial hub of Karachi targeted the office of the Awami National Party. Taliban militants had threatened to attack three political parties on election day.
The first blast went off near the election office of Amanullah Mehsud, an ANP candidate contesting polls to the Sindh Assembly. The powerful explosion was heard from several kilometres away. Mehsud escaped unhurt though several ANP workers were among the dead and injured.
The second blast went off minutes later near a polling station and an ANP office in the same area as rescue teams were busy rushing the victims of the first attack to hospital.
The second blast triggered a stampede at the polling station and disrupted voting for some time.
Five persons were injured by a blast near a polling station at Charsadda Road in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The bomb was attached to a motorcycle parked near the polling station.
Several persons were injured in a blast in Quetta, the capital of the restive southwestern province of Balochistan.
No group claimed responsibility for the attacks though the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has repeatedly targeted the ANP and other secular-leaning parties like the Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement during the campaign period.
Several ANP and MQM members, including candidates, were killed in Taliban attacks.
Days before the polls, the Taliban threatened it would carry out attacks, including suicide bombings, on the election day. The threat heightened concerns about security for the polls, which mark the first democratic transition of power in Pakistan's history.
The elections will decide the fate of 23,000 candidates who stayed on despite a volatile run-up that saw more than 130 people being killed in a series of terror attacks and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's son being abducted.