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Former Prime Minister declares victory in historic election based on partial vote count

Saturday - 5/11/2013, 7:40pm  ET

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (nah-WAHZ' shah-REEF') has declared victory following an election marred by violence today.

Unofficial, partial vote counts show Sharif's party with an overwhelming lead.

If his victory is confirmed, it would be a remarkable comeback for the 63-year-old Sharif, who has twice served as the country's premier but was toppled in a military coup in 1999. He spent years in exile before returning to the country in 2007. His party weathered a strong campaign by former cricket star Imran Khan that energized Pakistan's young people.

In a victory speech to supporters in the eastern city of Lahore, Sharif expressed a desire to work with all parties to solve the country's problems. The results indicate Sharif's party has an overwhelming lead, but will likely fall short of winning a majority of the 272 directly elected national assembly seats, meaning he would have to put together a ruling coalition.

Attacks against candidates, party workers and voters today killed 29 people.

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140-a-12-(Faiqa Haroon (FEYE'-kuh huh-ROON'), female voter, in AP interview)-"path of development"-Voter Faiqa Haroon says it's important for voters to cast ballots despite the danger of militant attacks. (11 May 2013)

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APPHOTO XAN103: Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N party celebrate the primary unofficial results of the country's parliamentary elections at a party office in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, May 11, 2013. The Pakistan Muslim League-N party, led by two-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, has long been considered the front-runner in the race. The party appeared to be moving toward a significant victory Saturday based on partial vote counts announced by Pakistan state TV. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed) (12 May 2013)

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APPHOTO XMM104: Pakistani women show their election ink-stained thumbs after casting their ballots at a polling station on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, May 11, 2013. Pakistanis streamed to the polls Saturday to vote in a historic election pitting a cricket star-turned-politician against an unpopular incumbent and a two-time prime minister, but twin bombings killing nine people and wounding dozens underlined the dangers voters face. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen) (11 May 2013)

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APPHOTO BKB114: Supporters of Tehreek-e-Pakistan, headed by Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, celebrate the victory of their supported candidate in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Despite attacks that killed dozens of people, Pakistanis turned out in huge numbers Saturday to vote in an election that marked a historic democratic transfer of power in a country plagued by military coups. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash) (11 May 2013)

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