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17 killed in Bangladesh election violence

17 killed in Bangladesh election violence
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By Mark Armstrong with Reuters
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Police in Bangladesh report that at least 17 people died in violent clashes at the country held a general election

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Violent clashes have marred Bangladesh's general election with reports that at least 17 people have been killed, including seven from the ruling party and five from the opposition alliance.

A further 20 people have been injured according to police.

The country's Election Commision told a news agency that it is also investigating claims of vote rigging across the nation.

As polls closed Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the ruling Awami League was the overwhelming favourite to win a third term.

"I believe the people of Bangladesh [...] will give us another opportunity to serve them so that we can maintain our upward trend of development, and take Bangladesh forward as a developing country," said Hasina.

The claims of vote-rigging came from the opposition, which also claimed one of its candidates from Dhaka was stabbed in his constituency.

"Let us hope that the reports we are getting of the malpractices that have taken place overnight, all over the country, do not irreparably damage this process," said Kamal Hossain, the leader of the National Unity Front. "If necessary another election will have to be held."

Over half a million security personnel were deployed in an attempt to prevent violence. Mobile internet was also blocked to minimise the spread of rumours that could have led to unrest.

Bangladesh is a country of 165 million but turnout was reported to be low with the prime minister predicted to win so easily.

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