Deaths, vote-rigging claims hit Bangladesh election day

Rival party supporters fought battles that left at least 14 dead on Sunday as Bangladesh held a parliamentary election expected to give the country’s longest-serving leader, Sheikh Hasina, a new term despite opposition claims of rigged voting.

Deadly violence and bitter rivalry that marred the election campaign spilled over into voting day, even as authorities imposed tight security with 600,000 troops, police and other security forces deployed across the country.

Ten people were killed in clashes between supporters of Hasina’s Awami League and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, police said.

Three men were shot by police who said they were protecting polling booths, while an auxiliary police member was killed by armed opposition activists, according to officials.

Polls predicted Hasina will clinch a third-consecutive term and record fourth overall.

Hasina, 71, has been lauded for boosting economic growth in the poor South Asian nation during her 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.

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