PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas are holding their first-ever provincial elections, in a region along the Afghan border that was once a stronghold for the Taliban, al-Qaida and other militant groups.
The seven tribal districts were merged last year into the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Before that, the tribal areas were federally administered, and residents could only vote in the national assembly.
Sohail Khan, a spokesman for the provincial election body, said 285 candidates, including two women, are running for sixteen seats.
Some 2.8 million voters are registered for Saturday’s elections, which opened at 8 a.m. local time amid heightened security.
Pakistan claims to have cleared the tribal areas of militants in a series of military operations in recent years, but the region still sees occasional attacks.