DHAKA (Bangladesh): Bangladesh was hit by fire attacks and violence amid opposition parties’ calls for a 48-hour shutdown on the eve of Sunday’s general elections, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

In one such attack, at least four passengers on the Benapole Express commuter train, including two children and a woman, were burned to death.

Eight people with sustained burn injuries were admitted in critical condition to the Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn and Plastic Surgery in the capital Dhaka, burn unit coordinator Dr Samanta Lal Sen told reporters.

Four coaches of the train were allegedly set on fire on Friday night when arriving in Dhaka from the western city of Jessore, said the fire service.

Following the alleged sabotage, railway authorities suspended operations of 31 sets of trains through the weekend.

Several polling booths set up in government primary schools were set on fire in the central Gazipur, southwestern Khulna, north-central Mymensingh districts on Friday night and early Saturday amid opposition strikes beginning on Saturday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed condolences and warned he would take tough action against perpetrators of the crimes, while the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) demanded a UN-facilitated investigation.

Last month, four people burned to death in a similar commuter train incident.

Opposition parties led by the BNP have been on the streets urging a boycott of the election, calling it a “staged” attempt to legitimise the reign of the ruling Awami League party.

The opposition demanded a neutral caretaker system to administer the election, a call the government rejected, calling it unconstitutional. - Bernama, Anadolu

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