Poor turnout in Bangladesh polls, eight killed in violence

Dhaka, Jan 5 (IANS) At least eight people, including an election officer, were killed in violence in Bangladesh’s 10th parliamentary elections Sunday.

Polling was suspended at 136 centres due to attacks by anti-poll protestors.
Thin attendance was recorded till 1 p.m. at polling centres in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Munsiganj, Kushtia and Jessore.
Jobaidur Rahman (45), assistant presiding officer at a polling centre in Thakurgaon district, 400 km from here, was killed by unidentified attackers hours before the elections began.
At least six opposition men were killed in Rangpur, Nilphamari, Feni and Munshiganj when opposition activists across the country tried to foil the general elections which they have already boycotted, the Daily Star reported.
Two activists of Jamaat-e-Islami were killed as police opened fire while they were trying to seize a polling centre in Pirgachha upazila of Rangpur, the report said.
In Nilphamari, two people, including a Jamaat activist, were killed in police firing in Dimla and Jaldhaka upazila (sub-districts).
In Feni, a Jubo Dal activist was killed and two activists of Shibir – Jamaat’s student wing – were injured when police opened fire to foil their attempt to snatch ballot papers at a polling centre.
An activist of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal died when he jumped into a roadside water-filled ditch in a bid to dodge arrest after he tried to hurl a petrol bomb at a polling centre.
Meanwhile, an activist of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s (BNP) youth wing, who was critically injured Saturday in a clash with the ruling Awami League (AL) party men in Lalmonirhat, died at a hospital in Rangpur early Sunday.
At least five people, including a security man, were injured in explosions Sunday outside two polling stations in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.
Handmade bombs were hurled outside the voting centres at Kadamtali’s Anirban Pre-Cadet School and Sirajuddin Primary School of Chakbazaar area, bdnews24.com reported.
More than 43.9 million voters are expected to cast their vote at 18,208 centres.
Voting began at 8 a.m. and will continue till 4 p.m. at about 18,000 polling stations set in schools and other public buildings.
Mired in controversy, the parliamentary elections are being held in just 147 out of 300 seats in 59 out of 64 districts of the country. As many as 153 candidates have already been elected unopposed amid a boycott by the main opposition party and its allies.
More than half of the country’s 100 million voters are not getting an opportunity to vote in the elections that have already sealed a victory for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after the opposition boycotted the contest.
Some 21 parties, including former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s BNP are boycotting the elections over Hasina’s refusal to introduce a non-party interim government to oversee the elections.
The BNP Friday announced another shutdown for 48 hours starting Saturday. The shutdown, aimed at protesting the confinement of Zia and to seek cancellation of the polls, will end at 6 a.m. Monday.
Since Nov 26, the opposition alliance has enforced nationwide blockade for 22 days in phases, demanding that the elections be scrapped and fresh polls held under a caretaker government.