Violence mars Bangladesh election as campaigning ends

Published 26.01.2019 15:56

Bangladesh's general election campaign ended Friday with more deadly violence as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeks a record fourth term. A ruling Awami League party supporter was killed by opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) followers, police said, while the BNP claimed 19 more of its activists had been detained ahead of Sunday's election.

The official campaign ended on Friday after seven weeks of widespread street clashes and accusations of an official crackdown on the opposition. An opinion poll indicated Hasina is favorite to win despite the controversy.

Police said the Awami League supporter was beaten to death in the northeastern city of Sylhet late Thursday. They had reported two earlier deaths of Awami League activists since the campaign opened on Nov. 8. The BNP says eight of its supporters have been killed in election clashes.

Sylhet police chief Shah Harunur Rashid told AFP that two BNP supporters had been arrested for the latest killing. The BNP said the man died in a conflict among Awami League supporters.

Nineteen BNP activists were arrested when police and paramilitary guards raided the election camp of a BNP candidate and several villages in southern Bangladesh, police and BNP officials told AFP.

Thousands of Awami League supporters rallied in Dhaka early Friday as candidates made a last-minute pitch for votes. The BNP, which says thousands of its activists have been locked up in a bid to rig the election, said it had been prevented from holding its final rally in the capital. Hasina, in her final campaign statement, urged Bangladesh's 104 million voters to re-elect her to boost the impoverished South Asian nation's economic development.

Bangladesh's economy has grown at an impressive average of 6.3 percent every year since she won a landslide in December 2008. "Much work is still pending and it depends on the people casting a vote for us. Then we will be able to return to power and complete the work," she said late Thursday.

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