Tue, 31 Mar 2020

Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas are holding their first-ever provincial elections, in a region along the Afghan border that was once controlled by Islamist militant groups.

Nearly 3 million people are eligible to vote in the provincial assembly elections on July 20, which opened at 8 a.m. local time amid heightened security measures.

The seven tribal districts were merged last year into the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. Previously, residents could only vote in the national assembly polls.

Sohail Khan, a spokesman for the provincial election body, said 285 candidates, including two women, were running for 16 seats.

Pakistan claims to have cleared the tribal areas of militants in a series of military operations in recent years, but the region still faces occasional attacks.

Election commission spokesman Altaf Khan said army troops had been deployed at all 1,897 polling stations.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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