Suicide bombing, bullets, ballot thefts mar KP local govt vote

Two dead in bomb blast in Bajaur: Another two killed in Karak fire exchange: Firing, rocket incidents halt polling in Khyber, Lakki Marwat: PTI minister’s brother snatches ballot boxes, election material, makes polling booth staff hostage in Bannu: ECP takes notice, delays polls in Baka Khel: Presiding officer, husband arrested in Peshawar on rigging

By: News Desk
Published: 12:02 PM, 19 Dec, 2021
Suicide bombing, bullets, ballot thefts mar KP local govt vote
Caption: TV grab.
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The Local Government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being held on Sunday became murkier and darker as four people were killed in two separate incidents of a suicide bomb blast in Bajaur and a firing incident in Karak, bringing into mind the gloomy red trail of blood that is usually associated with elections, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

The LG polls in the province were hit by incidents of violence, torture, firing, abduction of polling staff, snatching of election material and other irregularities putting a big question mark on the conduct of the balloting.

Suicide bombing targets ANP vehicle, killing two Bajaur

Two persons were killed while four others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a vehicle belonging to the Awami National Party (ANP) at Nawagai tehsil of Bajaur on Sunday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

According to sources in the hospital, the condition of one of the injured is stated to be critical.

The blast occurred when the vehicle was carrying the ANP voters to the polling stations so that they could cast their votes in the local bodies’ (LBs) elections being held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) today. 

Police said the area had been cordoned off and a search operation had been launched. 

ANP office-bearers said their leaders would address a press conference shortly to give their account of the attack. Reporter: Shahid Jan 

Karak firing

In another unhappy incident of firing at a polling station in Faqir Khel, Tehsil Takht Nusrati, Karak, two people were killed and three others sustained severe injuries. 

The rescue officials shifted the injured to the District Headquarters Hospital in critical condition. 

At many polling stations in the province, the Election Commission had to stop the balloting following the incidents of firing and irregularities. 

According to 24NewsHD, incidents of violence were reported in Khyber. Some violent people stormed the polling stations in Khyber and damaged the property there. They also held police officials hostage. 

In the most bizarre incident, a rocket was fired outside a polling station set up in a bazar at Zakha Khel area of Khyber.

Voting at Khan Mast Kalli polling station suspended 

The balloting process was suspended in the female polling station of Khan Mast Kali area of Khyber following complaints of irregularities. At two women polling stations in Jamrud Town, there were also some incidents of hullabaloo and commotion.

JI candidate escapes unhurt in firing incident in Bara 

The Jamaat-i-Islami candidate for the seat of Tehsil Mayor escaped unhurt during a firing incident at a polling station in Bara, Khyber. 

The election staff suspended the voting process in Yousuf Talab polling station in Bara for some time but later resumed it when things started getting normal. However, the firing created panic among people of the area. 

Firing in Lakki Marwat 

Two rival groups clashed with each other and traded fire at a woman polling station Multani Manjiwala in Lakki Marwat. However, there was no loss of life reported.

After the incident, the balloting at the polling station was stopped for a while but later it resumed. 

DPO Shahzad Umar Riaz reached the venue and brought the situation under control.

Baka Khel, Bannu voting postponed on rigging complaints against minister’s bro 

The polls in Tehsil Baka Khel of Bannu were postponed following complaints of rigging. The Election Commission of Pakistan also took notice of the incident and called a meeting to discuss the matter of abduction of polling staff and snatching of ballot papers. 

In a video message, watchman of a female polling booth set up at Mir Sharop Khan School of Tehsil Baka Khel accused the ruling PTI workers of taking ballot boxes with them. He alleged that Gul Baz Khan, brother of provincial Transporter Minister Shah Muhammad, along with his guards and police officials barged into the polling booth and held the female staff hostage. Then he took away ballot boxes. 

The school watchman further alleged that the PTI workers also took away seals, stamps and ballot papers with them.

The owner of the school also alleged that Gul Baz Khan was involved in the abduction and snatching of ballot papers and other election material. 

However, Transport Minister Shah Muhammad rubbished the accusations saying his opponents were levelling false allegations of abduction against his brother out of fear of their impending defeat.

The minister said that the polling staff of GMS Mehmood Jani Khel was missing all night then they suddenly appeared in the morning. 

PO, husband arrested in Peshawar 

In another incident of non-transparency in the Peshawar Local Government elections, a presiding officer was arrested along with her husband for indulging in rigging. 

The Election Commission took notice of the incident and suspended the entire polling staff deputed there. 

ECP facing Daska-like situation in KP LG polls 

It seems that the Election Commission of Pakistan has to face Daska-like situation during the KP local body polls. 

Following the reports of abduction of polling staff and snatching of ballot papers on the eve of KP LG polls, the Chief Election Commissioner and other ECP authorities tried to contact the KP chief secretary, IG police and other concerned persons till late at night but all in vain. 

The ECP will hold a meeting under the chair of Chief Election Commissioner to discuss the grievous situation during the polls in the province. The meeting would review the reports forwarded by the Bannu district commissioner and district police officer. 

Error in election symbol allotment halts polling in Mardan 

Due to a faux paus by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the election symbol of candidate Behram Khan who is contesting village council polls in Mardan has been allotted to another candidate. 

Behram rued that had been campaigning for almost one month and at the last moment, the ECP gave him a different election symbol. 

The polling could not be started in Mardan yet as the candidates are protesting outside the polling station.

Policemen enter booths, instruct voters in Peshawar 

The wrongdoings during the LG polls were reported from the polling stations set up in Peshawar. 

According to reports, policemen were present inside the Pashtakhra polling stations and Government Girls High School, Mashogagar. They are carrying ballot boxes with them. They have shut the doors of the booths and are instructing the voters, the reports pointed out. 

However, the Election Commission said that police were not allowed to enter the polling booth. 

Reporters Gohar Mehsood, Usman Khan, Farhat Ullah Babar, Syed Azmat, Jehanzeb Khan