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Clashes in boycotted Bangladesh poll

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Bangladeshi election officials carry salvaged ballot boxes following an attack on a polling station in the northern town of Bogra yesterday.

Bangladeshi election officials carry salvaged ballot boxes following an attack on a polling station in the northern town of Bogra yesterday. PHOTO BY AFP 

By AFP

Posted  Monday, January 6  2014 at  02:00

In Summary

With the opposition trying to enforce a general strike as part of a strategy to wreck the polls, officials say the turnout was significantly lower than usual.

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DHAKA

Thousands of protestors firebombed polling stations and stole ballot papers as deadly violence flared across Bangladesh yesterday during a walkover election boycotted by the opposition.

Police said at least 13 people had been killed and more than 200 polling stations were set on fire or trashed by mobs in a bid by the opposition to wreck the one-sided contest.

Two of those killed were beaten to death while guarding polling stations in northern districts which bore the brunt of the violence. “We’ve seen thousands of protestors attack polling booths and our personnel at a number of locations with Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs,” Syed Abu Sayem, police chief of the northern Bogra district, told AFP. “The situation is extremely volatile,” he added after describing how thousands of ballot papers had been ceremoniously set on fire.

Most of the other victims were opposition activists who were shot by police, while a driver died of his injuries from a Molotov cocktail attack on his truck. “We were forced to open fire after thousands of them attacked us with guns and small bombs,” said Mokbul Hossain, police chief in the northern Parbatipur town. In the capital, police confirmed at least two petrol bomb attacks on Dhaka polling stations.

Tens of thousands of troops were deployed across the country after around 150 people had been killed in the build-up, but they failed to stem the bloodshed.