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Pre-poll clashes leaves 2 ruling party workers dead in Bangladesh

Press Trust of India  |  Dhaka 

Two workers of the ruling Awami League party were killed and dozens others injured in political clashes in Bangladesh, police said Wednesday, as tension soared before the December 30 general elections in the country.

Scores of people were also injured in the clashes between the campaign workers of the two main political parties, the Awami League (AL) and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on Tuesday, they said.

Incumbent Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League is seeking a third consecutive term as formal electioneering began on Monday.

Her rival and ex-premier 73-year-old Khaleda Zia, who is the chairperson of the main opposition BNP, is currently serving jail terms in two graft cases involving charities named after her slain husband Ziaur Rahman.

Awami League and BNP workers clashed on Tuesday in the districts of Noakhali and Faridpur, leaving two campaigners of the ruling party dead, police said.

According to police, the ruling party campaigner was beaten to death by BNP supporters in Faridpur, known to be a Awami League stronghold, while eye witnesses said opposition workers equipped with knives and sticks killed the AL worker at a rally in Noakhali.

Awami League spokesman Hasan Mahmud accused the BNP of staging the attacks to upset the "peaceful election atmosphere".

The BNP denied the allegation, saying that the ruling party was trying to create panic among the opposition's candidates and workers. It also alleged the Awami League of attacking the motorcade of BNP general secretary Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir.

The Opposition also alleged that scores of its workers were detained by police in recent months on fictitious charges.

The BNP, which boycotted the 2014 elections under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League (AL) government over fears that it would be rigged, has set up an alliance with the newly formed National Unity Front (NUF) led by eminent jurist Kamal Hossain.

Bangladesh is deeply divided with rivals Hasina and Zia, popularly referred to as "Battling Begums", ruling the country alternately since 1991, when democracy was restored in the Islamic nation.

Both the women emerged from political dynasties. While Zia is the widow of Ziaur Rahman, a general-turned-president who was assassinated in 1981, Hasina is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's first president who was assassinated in 1975.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, December 12 2018. 19:36 IST
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