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Pakistan's Historic Elections Have Violent Run-Up

Analysts say Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif will be the likely winner in the historic parliament elections Saturday that for the first time in the South Asian nation's military coup-riddled history a civilian government has finished its term and will hand over power to another.

However, the last week of campaigning before the election has been marred by the kidnapping of a son of a former prime minister, back-to-back bombings of two rallies of a leading Islamic party and a Taliban announcement that the group has deployed suicide bombers to mount attacks on election day.

Pakistan's military say it is dispatching thousands of troops to polling stations and counting centers to prevent the Taliban from disrupting the vote.

On Thursday, the last day of campaigning, militants seized Ali Haider Gilani in a hail of gunfire on the outskirts of Multan in Punjab province. The 27-year-old son of Yousuf Raza Gilani is running for a provincial assembly seat in the district.

The elder Gilani said later two of his son's guards died shielding his son, but he did not know whether his son was wounded.

Meanwhile, the Taliban announced plans Thursday for suicide bombing attacks on election day.

Earlier in the week, the bombings of two rallies of a leading Islamic party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, strengthened views the Taliban is opposed to democracy and is targeting anyone taking part in the elections.

In the run up to the elections, the militants have killed more than 100 people and wounded scores more since late April.

Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan had a dramatic fall at a political rally Tuesday in Lahore. However, he made a televised plea from his hospital bed Thursday for people to vote for his PTI party in the May 11 elections.

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