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29 May 2024

One dead, dozens of voting booths hit in Bangladesh


An opposition activist was killed and dozens of voting booths were attacked in Bangladesh Saturday on the eve of elections which have been hit by a mass boycott, officials said.

Police said the protester was killed in clashes with supporters of the ruling Awami League in the northern town of Patgram as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party enforced a nationwide strike to resist what its calls a "farcical" election on Sunday.

"We don't know his identity but he is from either the BNP or Jamaat-e-Islami party," a police chief in Patgram told AFP, referring to the opposition's main Islamist ally which is banned from the election.

The BNP is the largest of 21 opposition parties which have refused to take part in the parliamentary election, which is certain to be won by the Awami League.

Around 150 people have been killed in political violence since October and a mass military deployment ahead of the polls has failed to halt the unrest.

Police and election officials said Saturday that protesters had set fire to or attempted to torch 34 polling booths during the first day of the strike.

Officials said the attacks would not derail the eleection and that alternative arrangements had been made for voters to cast ballots in the affected areas.

"There won't be any cancellation of polls in my region," Mohammad Abdullah, government administrator in the southeastern Chittagong region, told AFP.

"We've already made move to shift three polling centres which have been torched by protesters."

Two of the polling stations that were attacked were in the capital Dhaka, while nine were hit in the troubled southern Khulna district.