DHAKA: Opposition activists derailed a train in Bangladesh Wednesday, killing three people, as part of a campaign against elections due to be held next month, officials said.
Three coaches and the engine of the express train toppled off the tracks in the northern district of Gaibandha, trapping dozens of passengers, police and railway spokesmen said.
“Among the trapped passengers, three have died, including two 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 in a serious condition and others had suffered 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 had deliberately removed fishplates that linked the rail tracks, denouncing the derailing as “an act of sabotage”.
More than 60 people have been killed since late October when the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) began a mass campaign of action to force Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stand down ahead of the January 5 elections in favour of a caretaker government.
The BNP has refused to field candidates in the contest which electoral officials have said could be postponed.
Police chief Hossain said Wednesday's derailing was believed to be the work of opposition activists protesting plans to hold next month's election, adding that two had been arrested at the scene.
Bakshi said that 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 BNP.