DHAKA: Five people were killed in Bangladesh after a passenger train caught fire Friday, with police suspecting an arson attack during unrest ahead of national elections boycotted by the opposition.

Fire service officer Rakjibul Hasan said at least four coaches caught fire on the Benapole Express, which was arriving in the capital Dhaka from the western city of Jessore.

“We have recovered five bodies,” police commander Khandaker Al Moin told reporters.

Witnesses said the train caught fire at Gopibagh, in an old part of Dhaka not far from the megacity’s main rail terminal.

An unnamed rescuer told private broadcaster Somoy TV that hundreds of people had rushed to pull people out of the burning train.

“We rescued many. But the fire spread quickly,” he said. Somoy TV said some Indian citizens were also travelling in the train.

“We suspect the fire incident was an act of sabotage,” police chief Anwar Hossain told AFP, without giving more details.

Last month the police and government blamed the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for another train fire which left four people dead.

The BNP rejected involvement in that incident, saying it had been unfairly blamed as a pretext for a government crackdown on opposition parties.

Bangladesh will vote in national elections Sunday but the BNP and dozens of other parties have boycotted what they have described as a “sham” vote.

Thousands of opposition activists were arrested late last year after protest campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.


200 characters