Bangladesh: 10 killed in local government elections

By Md. Kamruzzaman


DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): At least 10 people were killed and dozens injured in the fifth phase of local government elections across Bangladesh, sources said Wednesday.

Six of the victims were slain in clashes during the daylong voting and the others in post-election violence during vote counting, said police sources and local media reports.

The country of nearly 170 million people held the fifth tier of local government elections at 708 union councils across the country which began in June last year.

Starting off peacefully, elections in various areas turned chaotic within hours as supporters of rival candidates became involved in serious clashes that left at least six people dead as voting ended at 4 p.m. local time (1000GMT) while four others including a woman were killed in post-election violence in the northern district of Bogura, according to police sources.

Speaking to journalists, Zia Latiful Islam, the officer in charge of the Gabtoli Police Station in Bogura, said four people were killed in post-election violence as the Border Guard Bangladesh opened fire after supporters of rival candidates engaged in violent clashes during vote counting.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s election authorities said that except for a few incidents, elections across the country were held peacefully.

“Elections have been held in a festive atmosphere and people have exercised their voting peacefully, and we expect that vote counting may cross 70%,” Election Commission Secretary Md. Humayun Kabir Khandaker told a media briefing.

Saying the killings in election violence were regrettable and unexpected, he added: “Six people have been killed. Any death for us is very painful, and we don’t expect it.”

Khandaker, however, briefed the media before the killings of four people in post-election violence.

“The election results must be accepted by both the winning and defeated candidates. I urge everyone to not react by being overly emotional,” he added.

Some local newspapers and online media, citing reports from their correspondents, put the total number of killings so far at 11.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its political allies have boycotted the elections amid allegations of intimidation, vote rigging and harassment of opposition leaders and activists.

At a political rally in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday, the party’s secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, accused the government of forcefully establishing one-party rule in the country and denying the people’s right to vote in a free and fair environment.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Dec. 10 imposed sanctions on some officials of the Bangladesh police and its elite force, the Rapid Action Battalion, for their alleged involvement in more than 600 enforced disappearances and nearly 600 extrajudicial killings of mostly leaders and activists of opposition political parties.

The government, however, denied the charges, and very recently, Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen sent a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to review the sanctions against the country’s police force, which is fighting terrorists and other miscreants.


[Map of Bangladesh by CIA/ Public Domain]

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