Voting For Bangladesh Elections Ends, 12 Killed In Violence

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Voting ended at 4:00 pm (1000 GMT) in the election which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to win but has been overshadowed by a crackdown on opposition activists.

At least 12 people were killed in election-day clashes in Bangladesh Sunday, after a bloody campaign overshadowed by a crackdown on the opposition by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is expected to win a historic but controversial fourth term.

Three men were shot by police while eight others died in clashes between activists from the ruling Awami League Party and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), police said.

An auxiliary police member was killed after being attacked by opposition activists armed with guns and sticks, according to officials.

Voting, which ended at 4:00pm (1000 GMT), was held under tight security. Polls have predicted that Hasina will clinch a third-consecutive term and record fourth overall.

Bangladesh's leader has been lauded for boosting economic growth in the poor South Asian nation during an unbroken decade in power and for welcoming Rohingya refugees fleeing a military crackdown in neighbouring Myanmar.

But critics accuse her of authoritarianism and crippling the opposition -- including arch-rival Khaleda Zia who is serving 17 years in prison on graft charges -- to cling on to power.

The election campaign was marred by violence between supporters of Hasina's Awami League and Zia's BNP.

Some 600,000 security personnel were deployed across the South Asian country, including at 40,000 polling stations.

Authorities ordered mobile operators to shut down 3G and 4G services until midnight on Sunday "to prevent the spread of rumours" that could trigger unrest.

The election-day deaths brought to 16 the official police toll for election violence since the ballot was announced on November 8.

Police said they acted "in self-defence" in the southern town of Bashkhali, when they opened fire on opposition supporters who attempted to storm a polling booth, killing one.

In a separate incident another man was shot by police after he tried to steal a ballot box.

Free and fair?

Opinion polls show Hasina, who has presided over six percent GDP expansion every year since she won a landslide in 2008, heading for a comfortable victory that would extend her reign as the country's longest-serving leader.

She needs 151 seats in the first-past-the-post system to control the 300-seat parliament but experts say a victory would be sullied by accusations that she hamstrung her opponents' campaign and scared people into voting for her.

The opposition says more than 15,000 of its activists have been detained during the weeks-long campaign, crushing its ability to mobilise grassroots support.

"We are getting disturbing reports outside Dhaka that overnight votes have been cast illegally," said Kamal Hossain, the 82-year-old architect of Bangladesh's constitution who is helming the opposition coalition. 

Presiding officers at polling stations across Dhaka reported a low turnout.

Human Rights Watch and other international groups have decried the crackdown, saying it has created a climate of fear which could prevent opposition supporters from casting ballots.

The United States has raised concerns about the credibility of the Muslim-majority country's election while the United Nations called for greater efforts to make the vote fair.

Seventeen opposition candidates have been arrested over what they claim are trumped-up charges while another 17 were disqualified from running by courts, which Hasina's opponents say are government controlled.

"This is not (a) free and fair election. It is more a controlled selection," said a Western diplomat who asked not to be named.

warns of 'surprise response' if war imposed Pakistan’s DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor accused India of making war threats and warned New Delhi of surprise response if war is imposed.

The meeting had been called against the backdrop of growing concerns about safeguarding citizens' data privacy and the possibility of social media platforms being used to interfere in the upcoming elections.

शहीदों के घर ‘दर्द का दरिया’ उमड़ा था और ‘प्राइम टाइम मिनिस्टर’ दरिया में शूटिंग कर रहे थे: राहुल गांधी

The Left parties, which have decided not to go in for any pre-poll alliances, are not likely to be part of the meeting, sources said. Decide strategy against BJP for Lok Sabha polls

As soon as the House met for the Budget session, the Chief Minister moved the resolution and termed the attack as "inhuman" and "barbaric".

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