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Fifth-phase UP polls: Ten killed in violence

At least ten people were killed and score others injured in stray incidents of violence in some places during the fifth-phase elections in 708 Union Parishads across the country on Wednesday.

Clashes, vandalism and torching of election campaign offices took place in some places centring on the local-government election.

Despite some stray incidents of violence, the election atmosphere and voter turnout were very satisfactory in most of the election centres.

In Bogura, four people were killed as law enforcers opened fire after they came under attack inside the Kalaihata High School polling centre in Baliadighi union in Bogura’s Gabtali upazila, said Ali Haider Chowdhury, additional superintendent of police in the district.

Confirming the news, on-duty magistrate Asif Ahmed said that some supporters of a chairman candidate attacked the law enforces when they were counting votes at the centre. The presiding officer, Ansar members and other law enforcers were attacked, leaving at least 17 injured.

The magistrate said that he ordered law enforcers to open fire to protect their lives after the attackers broke his leg.

The four deceased were identified as Mohammad Alamgir, Abdul Rashied, Korshed Akadna and Kulshum, said police.

Zakir Hossain, 30, a house painter, was stabbed to death during a clash between supporters of two member candidates in Rameshwarpur union of the same upazila, said Gabtali Model Police Station OC Zia Latiful Islam.

In Chattogram, a man was killed in a clash between the supporters of member candidates Dhananjay Biswas and Raghunath Sarker in around 11:00am. The deceased was identified as Ankur Dutta, 35.

The clash broke out about one kilometre away from Ramkanai High School polling centre in Singhara, said Inspector Mahbubur Rahman of Anwara Police Station.

Ankur was critically injured in the violence and was first taken to the local health complex and then to Chittagong Medical College Hospital where he died.

In Gaibandha, one person was killed in election violence at Adarsh College polling station in Jummabari union of Saghata upazila. The deceased was identified as Abu Taher, 40, of Mamudpur in the union. Saghata Upazila Nirbahi Officer Sardar Mostafa Shahin confirmed the matter. “Abu Taher was killed in a clash outside the polling station,” he said.

Locals said clashes broke out between supporters of two UP candidates outside Jummabari Adarsh College Centre in Jummabari Union of the upazila.

At around 3:15pm, Abu Taher and his supporters got into a fight. When they found Abu Taher alone, they attacked him. Later, he died on the way to the hospital.

In Manikganj, a woman named Samela Khatun, 50, died during a clash between supporters of two member candidates near the polling station at Daulatpur in Manikganj.

The incident took place at noon on Wednesday near the polling station of Banchamara No. 2 Government Primary School in Banchamara Union of the upazila.

The deceased was identified as Salema, wife of Mahatab of the area. Additional Superintendent of Police Tania Sultana of Shibalaya Circle confirmed the matter.

Tania Sultana said clashes broke out between supporters of the two-member candidate near Government Primary School No. 2 in Bachamara Union.

At that time the woman fell in the middle and died. According to locals, the woman died of a heart attack.

Additional law enforcers were deployed on the scene. In Harirampur, polling was suspended due to clashes in several centres.

In Moulvibazar, a cameraperson of ATN News was assaulted by a chairman candidate and his supporters while covering the voting in Madhabpur union under Kamolganj upazila of Moulvibazar on Wednesday morning.

Hossain Baksh is currently undergoing treatment at Kamolganj Upazila Health Complex.

“I went out with the car and the pass issued by the Election Commission to report on the UP polls. When I reached the Jhaplarpar area, Awami League-nominated chairman candidate Asid Ali, his son Shah Alam and their goons obstructed my way and swooped on me,” Baksh told journalists.

“Then they took me to Asid Ali’s home and thrashed me, leaving me wounded in the head, legs, face and other parts of my body,” he alleged.

The attackers also snatched his wallet, camera and mobile phones, the journalist alleged.

Later, police rescued Baksh and admitted him to upazila health complex.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ashequl Huq said the upazila administration was keeping tabs on Baksh and his health.

Voting in the fifth-phase election started at 8:00am and continued until 4:00pm.

Two people were killed in Kachua and Hahinchar of Chandpur district in election violence.

Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were being used in 40 UPs while traditional ballot papers in the rest of the UPs, according to the Election Commission (EC).

A total of 3,278 chairman, 25,233 general member and 7,950 reserve member candidates were contesting the local body polls being boycotted by most opposition parties, including Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), as they announced that they would not participate in any election under the current EC.

Some 14,220,195 voters – 7,060,140 males, 6,836,031 females and 21 transgender ones –exercised their franchise in 708 UPs under 95 upazilas.

Meanwhile, incidents of violence, killing, and torching of campaign offices have become widespread, centering on the ongoing UP election.

Like previous phases, the supporters of different rival candidates got involved in clashes and vandalism in different parts of the country centering on the fifth phase of the elections.

Chase and counter-chase took place in polling centres in Ashulia of Savar in the morning.

Apart from this, miscreants vandalised six vehicles carrying journalists of different media outlets in Boalkhali upazila of Chattogram. At least three journalists were injured.

Witnesses said the incident took place at Ahala Asadia Government Primary School in Boalkhali’s Ward 10.

A mobile court sentenced a man to six months in jail after he was caught red-handed while casting fake votes in Majlishpur UP of Brahmanbaria Sadar Upazila.

At least 50 people have so far been killed in violence during the last four phases of the UP elections.