QUETTA: During a vote recount, two people were killed and 13 others injured in an armed clash between the supporters of Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) candidates outside the office of the returning officer in the industrial town of Hub, on Wednesday.

Officials said BAP’s Balochistan chapter president Sardar Mohammad Saleh Bhootani claimed victory on the Hub seat (PB-21) by obtaining 30,­910 votes according to unofficial results against PPP’s Ali Hassan Zehri, who challenged the result and sought recount of votes.

However, on the PPP candidate’s complaint, the election commission held the result of PB-21 and ordered recount of votes.

Supporters of Mr Zehri also staged a sit-in in front of the returning officer’s office, alleging that Mr Bhootani did not win the seat. Later, the supporters of Mr Bhootani also arrived at the office of the returning officer, located at Civic Centre, during the recount of votes.

In the first phase, votes of nine polling stations were recounted, but as the recounting of 30 other polling stations was under way, the returning officer had to be shifted to hospital in the middle of the recount when he complained of some health issue.

Meanwhile, officials said, supporters of both sides attempted to enter the Civic Centre and clashed with each other. During the clash that continued for two hours, the officials added, gunshots were fired, leaving several people wounded.

During the armed clash, two people were killed and 13 others sustained gunshot wounds.

On receiving information about the clash, Frontier Corps personnel and police rushed the site and shifted the bodies and injured to Jam Ghulam Qadir Memorial Hospital. “The injured people and two others who lost their lives received multiple bullet injuries,” hospital officials said. Sources said the deceased belong to Bhootani group.

SSP Hub Manzoor Ahmed Buledi said the situation had worsened when some protesters tried to enter the Civic Centre, where the RO office is located. Heavy contingent of police and FC was deployed in Hub to avert further clashes. Police said that the situation was under control, though tension prevails in the town.

The election commission has formed a four-member fact-finding committee to investigate the process of vote recount.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2024

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