7 shot dead in Rangamati
At least seven people, including two polling officials and four Ansar personnel, were shot dead in Rangamati's Baghaichhari upazila in a violent turn of events in the second phase of upazila polls yesterday.
Two jeeps came under a hail of gunfire in Noymile area around 6:00pm, leaving four dead on the spot, Abul Manjur, officer-in-charge of Baghaichhari Police Station, told The Daily Star.
The attackers are unknown.
The security personnel, including two women, and the polling officials were returning to the upazila town with election results and polling materials, he said.
They had just discharged their election duties at Konglak Government Primary School centres in Sajek union, reported our Rangamati correspondent, quoting police.
Fourteen people were injured in the attack. Of them, three died after being taken to Baghaichhari Upazila Health Complex.
The OC said seven of the injured, including presiding officer Abdul Hannan Arnab, were in critical condition.
Rangamati SP Alamgir Kabir said some injured were taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Chattogram by a helicopter as their condition deteriorated.
Meanwhile, members of the army remain deployed in the three hilly districts, including Rangamati, round the clock.
The deceased were identified as polling officials Amir Ali, 37, and Abu Tyab, Ansar members Jahanara Begum, 40, Mihir Kanti Dutta, 40, Bilkis Akter, 50, and Alamin, 25, and helper of a jeep driver, Mintu Chakma, said Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nadim Sarwar.
The Election Commission strongly condemned the attack yesterday.
It expressed deep sympathy to the families of victims, said SM Asaduzzaman, EC joint secretary director (public relations).
He said the commission also asked the authorities concerned to take steps for ensuring treatment of the injured.
Eleven candidates in Rangamati boycotted the polls about an hour after the voting began around 8:00am, alleging irregularities and vote rigging.
They include Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samity-backed chairman candidate in Baghaichhari Bara Rishi Chakma and vice chairman contender Samiron Chakma and female vice chairman candidate Sumita Chakma.
Naniarchar upazila independent chairman candidates Panchanon Chakma, Jantina Chakma, Rupom Dewan and vice chairman candidates Rana Bikash Chakma and Sujit Talukder and female vice chairman candidates Promika Chakma and Koality Chakma also boycotted the elections over the same allegations.
Arjun Moni Chakma, an independent contender in Kawkhali upazila, did the same.
Asked, Returning Officer SM Shafi Kamal said the situation was not such that a candidate would have to boycott an election. "It was held in a free, fair and peaceful manner," he said.