DHAKA: Opposition activists killed three people when they derailed a train in Bangladesh Wednesday as part of a campaign against elections scheduled for next month, officials said.
Three coaches and the engine of the express toppled off the tracks in the northern district of Gaibandha and trapped dozens of passengers, police and railway spokesmen said.
“Among the trapped passengers, three have died — rwo men and a woman,” Gaibandha police chief Sajid Hossain told AFP.
Hossain said five passengers who had been rescued from one of the derailed coaches were seriously hurt and others had minor injuries.
The private television network Somoy put the number of injured at 40.
Mahbubul Alam Bakshi, the head of Bangladesh Railway’s northern region, said protesters removed fishplates linking the rails in what he called “an act of sabotage.”
Police chief Hossain said Wednesday’s derailing was believed to be the work of opposition activists protesting at plans to hold next month’s election, adding that two had been arrested at the scene.
Bakshi said the pair were both followers of Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamist movement which is banned from taking part in the election and is allied to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Opposition activists trying to enforce a transport strike also derailed two other trains early Wednesday, forcing the suspension of four key train services in the southeast and all services in the southwestern city of Khulna, police and officials said.
Two burns victims, injured during arson attacks in the capital Dhaka and the port city of Chittagong, died of their injuries early Wednesday.
At least 64 people — 34 of them since last week — have now been killed since late October when the BNP began a mass campaign to try to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stand down ahead of the January 5 elections.
The BNP and its Islamist ally want a caretaker government to oversee the polls, as with previous elections, to ensure fairness.
They are boycotting the poll, which electoral officials have said could be postponed.