Violence escalates in Bangladesh ahead of elections

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 25.12.2018 23:45
Updated 26.12.2018 08:00

Around two dozen masked youths attacked a group of Bangladeshi reporters with hockey sticks and batons, injuring about 10 of them, when they were resting at a hotel after covering an election rally, the journalists said yesterday. The incident, which occurred late on Monday in the town of Nawabgonj about 40 km (25 miles) from the capital Dhaka, is the latest in a series of violent attacks that have marred campaigning for a national election on Dec. 30. The youths, whose identity remains unclear, also smashed hotel windows and vandalized more than a dozen vehicles belonging to media outlets or privately owned, the journalists said.

Thousands of troops were put on law and order duties across the country on Monday amid escalating poll violence, said a military statement. Media reports said some 30,000 soldiers were joining more than 20,000 paramilitary forces already deployed. While such deployment is common ahead of national elections in Bangladesh, the opposition has been strongly demanding the military's engagement in the election process amid concern that violence could happen. The soldiers usually work as a striking force.

Opposition parties have complained of violent attacks against their workers by ruling party activists and the arrests of candidates on what they say are trumped-up charges during the election campaign. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, which is seeking a third straight term in power, has denied accusations of trying to intimidate opposition candidates and journalists.

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