At least 10 people were killed in overnight violence as local elections began in Bangladesh, police said Wednesday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Seven of those deceased were shot by security forces.
Voting began Tuesday in the elections for over 6,000 local councils across the country. The southern coastal town of Mathabria was hit hard after thousands of ruling party supporters attacked police and border guards as they transported ballot boxes to government headquarters, AFP reported. According to another police official, the injured and deceased were supporters of the ruling Awami League party who allegedly attacked police over fears of losing the elections.
“A magistrate ordered the shooting and officers fired at thousands of unruly people who attacked us with machetes, rocks and sticks,” district police chief Walid Hossain told AFP. “Three people died on the spot and two on the way to hospital,” he said, adding that five others suffered wounds in the police shooting.
Clashes also broke out in the southeastern coastal town of Sabrang where security forces shot and killed two people after supporters of a rebel ruling party candidate tried to take away ballot boxes from paramilitary forces, local police chief Kabir Hossain told AFP.
Three others also reportedly died in various parts of Bangladesh. The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party accused Awami League party of violence, rigging and fraud including ballot-stuffing, the AFP report said. Although these elections will not alter the political scene in the country, a landslide victory would strengthen Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s hold on power ahead of the general elections in 2019.