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Polls open in Pakistan election after violence and fraud allegations

Polling stations have opened in Pakistan in a general election which has already been marred by violence and allegations of fraud.

On the eve of Thursday’s election, bombs struck two political offices in southwestern Pakistan, killing at least 30 people.

Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at polling stations to ensure security.

Pakistan’s government has also suspended mobile phone service across the country in what it described as a “security measure”, local media has reported.

Explained: The problems facing Pakistan as voters go to the polls

Tensions have been high in the country ahead of the vote.

Former cricketer Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, is still the most popular politician in the country, according to polls.

However, last week, Khan was handed multiple prison sentences over a series of charges, among them corruption and leaking state secrets, and was banned from contesting the vote.

Khan’s arrest last year sparked violent protests in Pakistan. He has claimed that the charges against him are politically motivated.

Meanwhile, several groups, including the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban and separatist groups from Balochistan, who oppose the Pakistani state, have carried out a spate of attacks in recent months.

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