Clashes broke out Thursday at dozens of polling sites throughout Punjab province on the first day of local elections, leaving at least 30 people dead and more than 200 others injured, according to news reports.
The widespread violence that marked the start of a three-day vote for town, city and village councils - the first local elections in Pakistan in seven years - was coupled with accusations of massive vote rigging.Pakistan's right-wing religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, has called for a revote in 107 locations throughout the eastern province, Pakistan's largest, home to 60 percent of the country's 140 million people.
Most of the clashes were between supporters of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League and their political rivals and stemmed from feuds and tensions that surfaced during the campaign.
According to the independent English-language newspaper, The News, 30 people died in the election-related violence. Police officials and authorities throughout the province confirmed the death toll.
Voting was temporarily suspended at 900 polling stations and only restarted after a heavy police contingent was deployed, police officials said.
As many as 500 people have been arrested, including five supporters of a former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, who are accused of killing the relative of a candidate loyal to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, The News reported.
While the elections are nonpartisan, the political loyalties of the candidates are widely known.