At least 13 people have been killed and about a thousand others injured in poll-related violence during local elections held in party lines for the first time in Bangladesh, police said.
Much of the violence was in the southern coastal town of Mathabria, where clashes broke out on Tuesday when thousands of ruling party supporters attacked police and border guards and snatched ballot boxes.
At least five persons were killed and several others injured in Mathbaria area that saw the deadliest violence.
Apart from this, two persons were killed in Cox’s Bazar and one each in Jhalakathi, Netrakona and Sirajganj in polls-related violence.
Police opened fire when the ruling party workers refused to move away after hearing that their candidate was losing.
Three persons died on the spot while three others passed away on way to hospital in Barisal.
Main opposition outside parliament Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called the polls a “farce” as their nominees bagged only 30 seats in 712 union councils and attributed the violence to the newly introduced system of contesting polls with party tickets.
“We previously feared the new system will spark violence, our apprehension turned true,” BNP Spokesman Asaduzzaman Ripon told PTI.
Awami League activists had laid siege to a college centre where the counting was under way, said police official Abu Ashraf. Most of the dead were ruling party supporters.
Yesterday, 712 Union Parishad went to the polls, held on the party lines for the first time. The Election Commission initially had planned to conduct elections to 730 Union Parishad but it had to postpone the polls in 18 places due to legal complications.
Elections to 643 Union Parishad are slated for March 31 in the second phase and 681 Union Parishad on April 23 in the third phase. Around 2,200 unions will go to polls in three more phases till June.
BNP, which boycotted the 2014 general elections but decided to take part in the local government polls to revamp their politics, said almost all the local council polls were marred by violence, rigging and fraud including ballot-stuffing by the ruling party supporters.
The elections will not change the political landscape of the country, but a sweeping victory would consolidate Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s hold on power ahead of the general elections in 2019.