At least four people, including two children, were killed and many injured here on Friday when suspected arsonists set on fire a passenger train coming from Benapole, a port city bordering India, officials said, a day ahead of Bangladesh's general elections that have been boycotted by the main opposition BNP.

The incident happened around 9 pm when four carriages of the Benapole Express that runs from Benapole, a town bordering the Indian state of West Bengal, were set on fire as it nearly reached its destination of the capital’s Kamalapur Railway Station.

"So far we have found four bodies . . . searches are still underway," Shahjahan Shikdar, the spokesman of Fire Service and Civil Defence, told newsmen at the scene.

Railway officials said that most of the train’s nearly 292 passengers were returning home from India and the train was set on fire at 9 PM as it reached the Gopibagh area near the station.

Fire service chief Brigadier General Mohammad Main Uddin, meanwhile, said two of the dead were minor children.

“When we tried to bring out a middle-aged man through a window of the train but he asked me to leave him and rather save his wife and children from inside,” a local youth was seen telling the private Jamuna TV.

He said soon fire engulfed the man's and he died shortly thereafter.

A report by the Somoy TV said that some Indian nationals were also travelling in the train.

While the railway officials could not immediately confirm how many people were wounded, private TV channels said that people in the neighbourhood first reached the scene and sent several fire-wounded people to Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s burn unit and some other facilities.

Bangladesh goes to polls on Sunday. More than 100 foreign observers, including three from India, have reached Dhaka to monitor the general election.

Led by former prime minister Khalida Zia, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is boycotting the general election as it is demanding an interim non-party neutral government to hold the election.

The demand was rejected by the government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is heading the ruling Awami League.

Foreign Ministry officials said a three-member delegation from the Election Commission of India reached Dhaka on Friday while 122 others from different countries were set to be here ahead of the January 7 polls, which the United Nations said would watch closely.

Bangladesh witnessed a couple of train related incidents in the recent months.

Unidentified saboteurs On December 19 set a train ablaze killing four people, among them a mother and child, amid an opposition called countrywide strike on that day.

One passenger was killed and dozens wounded as saboteurs uprooted railway tracks when seven carriages derailed in Gazipur on the outskirts of the capital in early December.

On January 2, a train carrying some 300 passengers narrowly averted a major crash at the last minute as suspected saboteurs removed 28 dog spikes or hooks from the tracks on a railway bridge in northern Bangladesh.

Awami League accused BNP of carrying out the sabotages, which the party denied. 

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by staff)