Bangladesh deploys 600,000 security forces ahead of vote

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The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB arrested eight people yesterday night for circulating "provocative videos and rumors" on social media relating to the parliamentary election.

Local media including the country's leading Bengali-language daily, Prothom Alo, said up to 10 people had been killed Sunday in clashes between rival partisans and police in six districts across the country.

Deadly clashes broke out between workers of the Awami League and its opponents, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) amid allegations of vote rigging.

The CEC's comments came as BNP expressed doubts about credibility of Sunday's election alleging their supporters were intimidated and arrested while their agents too were being harassed to keep them away from polling centres. "I can say with 100 per cent confidence that the Awami League will win the polls", the techie, who will catch the afternoon flight to Washington DC on Sunday after casting his vote, said.

"Pro-liberation forces will clinch the victory", news agency IANS quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

High-speed mobile internet has been ordered to be shut down until after the elections, a decision made to prevent rumours and propaganda from triggering unrest, an official said. A part of me realises my mother can not do it forever and that I should be here to keep the Awami League strong and play my role in Bangladesh's progress.

When the founding leader of Bangladesh, father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, was assassinated in 1975 after helping achieve independence from Pakistan, then-Foreign Minister Kamal Hossain abandoned a state visit in Europe to rush to her side.

This election, some 104 million people are eligible to vote, including many first-time voters.

The BNP said on Thursday that more than 8,200 opposition leaders and activists from a coalition of about 20 parties have been arrested since early last month.

Law enforcement agencies in major cities are checking vehicles as part of their vigil while some 6,00,000 security personnel including several thousand soldiers and paramilitary border guards have been deployed across the country.

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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.

After intensive efforts by the BNP to get Khaleda out of jail failed, her son, Tarique Rahman, who is wanted in Bangladesh for masterminding a 2004 plot to kill Hasina, appealed to women voters on Facebook. More than half of the 300 parliamentary seats were uncontested.

After intensive efforts by the BNP to get Khaleda out of jail failed, her son, Tarique Rahman, who is wanted in Bangladesh accused of masterminding a 2004 plot to kill Hasina, appealed to women, who make up almost half the 100 million voters, to help get his mother out of jail.

Miller said everyone in Bangladesh must be able to vote "without harassment, intimidation, or violence".

The 71-year-old Hasina has called for voters to back her to further bolster the economy which has shown impressive growth during her decade in power.

The Awami League Secretary General Mahbubul Alam Hanif said the violent clashes were due to internal struggles within the BNP. The polls are being held at 40,183 polling stations.

"I think the country has already developed much and it will be developed more", she said in Bengali.

In a statement late Friday, December 28 Amnesty International demanded that the government investigate assaults on activists and probe an attack this week on 12 journalists covering the campaign.

One of the poll planks this time in the country is the treatment of minorities, which is seen as a "sensitive issue" that is increasingly attracting attention from the diplomatic community in Dhaka.