Polling stations firebombed in deadly Bangladesh vote

Polling stations firebombed in deadly Bangladesh vote
Bangladeshi riot police patrol the neighborhood where several local polling station are located in the old city of Dhaka

DHAKA - Six people were killed and polling stations firebombed as Bangladesh went ahead on Sunday with a walkover election boycotted by the opposition.

With the fear of attacks limiting turnout and around 150 people killed in the build-up to voting, tens of thousands of troops were deployed across the country.

But police said more than 200 polling stations had been attacked since late Saturday into early Sunday, and officers guarding the booths were also targeted.

The ruling Awami League has accused the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of orchestrating the violence, and has kept its leader under de facto house arrest while she fumes over what is effectively a one-party contest.

Some of the worst violence was in the northern district of Bogra, which is a BNP stronghold.

"We've seen thousands of protestors attack polling booths and our personnel at a number of locations with Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs," Bogra's police chief Syed Abu Sayem told AFP.

"The situation is extremely volatile."

There were similar reports in the northern Rangpur region, where police said they had shot one person dead as protesters snatched stacks of ballot papers.

Two other opposition activists were shot dead by police in similar incidents elsewhere in the north, and a fourth in the coastal Feni district.

A polling officer who was beaten up by a group of opposition supporters died of his injuries, as did a truck driver whose vehicle had been firebombed.

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