Child among four dead in Bangladesh train ‘arson attack’ on eve of tense election

A child is among four people who have died in a suspected arson attack on a train in Bangladesh on the eve of a tense election – with schools and polling booths also set alight.
Eight people were injured when the fire spread to four carriages of the Dhaka-bound Benapole Express on Friday night, with the opposition blaming the ruling party.

On Saturday, police said unidentified arsonists targeted at least five primary schools – including four polling booths – in the northeast.
The main opposition – the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) – is boycotting the general election for the second time, labelling Sunday’s vote a sham ploy for power by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Investigation is under way, but it seems the train was deliberately set on fire,” said railway police official Ferdous Ahmed.

Image: Local people helped firefighters
Kazi Shafiqul Alam, the police chief for Gazipur – where some of the fires were reported – said his force had “intensified patrolling and remain[s] on high alert to thwart any untoward incident”.
The BNP has asked citizens to shun the poll and called for a two-day strike in the country from Saturday.
Ms Hasina, refusing BNP demands to resign and cede power to a neutral authority to run the election, accuses the opposition of instigating protests that have killed at least 10 people since late October.
The normally-busy roads in the capital Dhaka were largely deserted on Saturday, with armoured vehicles patrolling the city.


Arsonists attacked polling booths in the northeastern districts of Moulavibazar and Habiganj, police said, adding similar incidents had been reported across the country over the past two days.
In the coastal district of Khulna, police arrested two people on Thursday night after local citizens caught them allegedly trying to set fire to a school.
Another attempt to set fire to a primary school building in the same area was averted by locals on Friday, according to Khulna’s police chief Saidur Rahman.
“We are on alert and are on the lookout for the arsonists,” he said.

Image: The passenger train that was on fire

Image: A relative of a victim mourns near recovered bodies
About 800,000 police and security personnel are expected to guard polling booths on Sunday, while officials of the army, navy and air force have also been deployed across the country.
Last month protesters set another train on fire, killing four people during a countrywide strike called by the opposition.
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Friday’s train fire in Dhaka’s Wari area was brought under control by seven firefighting units after about an hour, fire service official Shahjahan Sikder said.
An official at the Wari police station said officers suspected “sabotage” and would be able to confirm the cause of the fire only after the investigation.

Source : Sky News