2 killed in fresh Bangla clashes, voting centres burnt

BangladeshKhaleda Zia called upon countrymen to fully boycott the election, terming it a “stigmatised farce”.

Bangladesh's main opposition party BNP Friday called for a fresh 48-hour shutdown to derail Sunday's polls, with its chief Khaleda Zia asking people to boycott the "farce" election, even as two people were killed in clashes and five makeshift voting centres torched.

"No one at home and abroad will recognise it as an election and through this, the Awami League government will appear anew as an illegal structure," Zia, also head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 18-party opposition alliance, said in a statement.

Zia called upon countrymen to fully boycott the election, terming it a "stigmatised farce".

The least contested election is going to take place in 147 constituencies on January 5 as 153 lawmakers have already been elected uncontested due to the boycott by the BNP-led alliance and other political parties.

Zia asked the opposition leaders, activists and common people of the country to carry on with the movement against what she termed as autocratic rule, the Daily Star reported.

"January 5 will be recognised as a black date," Zia said.

The BNP called for the nationwide 48-hour shutdown, which will include the polling day, in protest against the polls. The strike was called even as the opposition has enforced a non-stop blockade since January 1 to foil the polls.

"In protest against the one-sided election, a countrywide general strike will be observed from 6 am Saturday along with the non-stop blockade," BNP Chairperson's Advisor Osman Faruq said.

Meanwhile, two people were killed and three others injured late Thursday night when suspected BNP activists and its fundamentalist ally Jamaat-e-Islami hurled petrol bombs on a truck in northwestern Hakimpur of Dinajpur district.

"The driver apparently lost control over the wheels as the truck caught fire... it overturned and fell into a roadside ditch," a police officer said, adding that the driver and the trader were burnt to death.

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