Clashes between supporters of rival candidates in Pakistan left 19 people dead and more than 100 injured as voters went to polls in the second phase of municipal elections Thursday.
The violence came despite the deployment of thousands of soldiers, paramilitary troops and a large number of police at polling stations. In the first phase of the elections on Aug. 18, as many as 22 people were killed and more than 200 injured.
On Thursday, 12 deaths were reported in the eastern Punjab province, said police spokesman Malik Munir.
Five deaths were reported in southern Sindh province, one in northwestern Pakistan, and one in the southwest, said an interior ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with official policy.
Voting was held in 54 districts of Pakistan under tight security, said Kanwar Mohammed Dilshad, a senior election official.
Elections to choose councilors and mayors are held every four years in the predominantly Islamic nation, where municipal officials look after the welfare of communities, including supervision of schools, clinics and roads.
Under election laws, no political or religious groups is allowed to field candidates. However, many running for municipal office have behind-the-scenes backing from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Q party or opposition groups.
Opposition politicians have alleged that last week's voting was rigged. Analysts said the government had not taken steps to ensure independent observers were at polling stations, the AP reports.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18