2 dead in violence in B’desh as voting centres torched

Dhaka: At least two people have been killed in clashes between pro-and anti-government supporters across Bangladesh, as five voting centres were set on fire amid the opposition’s nonstop blockade two days before the elections.

Police said a driver and a trader were killed and three others injured when suspected activists of main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its fundamentalist ally Jamaat-e-Islami hurled petrol bombs on an onion-laden truck at northwestern Hakimpur of Dinajpur district overnight.

“The driver apparently lost control over the wheels as the truck caught fire…it overturned and fell into a roadside ditch,” a police officer said, adding that the driver and the trader were burnt to death.

In the capital Dhaka, police said at least three persons, including a woman, sustained severe burn injuries when miscreants hurled a petrol bomb on a bus at Paribagh area this morning as the opposition’s nationwide non-stop blockade on roads, railway tracks and waterways continued.

Witnesses said several youths hurled a petrol bomb which landed at the front side of the bus, critically injuring the driver and two passengers who were immediately rushed to the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital.

Doctors at the unit said the wounds of the 40-year-old woman appeared critical as 64 per cent of her body was burned.

Meanwhile, five makeshift voting centres housed at four schools were set on fire at Daganbhuiyan area of northwestern Feni, the hometown of BNP chief Khaleda Zia.

All the five education institutions were supposed to be used as polling centres during the 10th national elections on Sunday.

Election commission officials said security vigil was intensified at identified trouble-prone areas following the acts of sabotages.

The BNP-led 18-party opposition alliance has been demanding Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s resignation and scrapping of the polls. The BNP has refused to field candidates, saying elections under Hasina will be rigged – an accusation the premier strongly rejects.

Election in 147 constituencies out of the total 300 will be held on Sunday. Candidates in 153 other parliamentary seats have been elected uncontested as the opposition is boycotting the elections. The opposition has enforced a non-stop blockade from January 1 to foil the polls. They have dismissed the elections as ‘farce’.