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Five killed in fire in intercity train in Dhaka’s Gopibagh

Five people died in a fire on a passenger train in Bangladesh on Friday, news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. The report said authorities feared an arson attack amid political unrest due to the boycott of national elections.

The fire engulfed at least four coaches of the Benapole Express near Dhaka’s Gopibagh area, close to the city’s primary rail terminal, according to Fire Service and Civil Defense duty officer Rakjibul Hasan.

“We have recovered five bodies,” police commander Khandaker Al Moeen said during a media briefing, adding that an investigation into the incident is ongoing, AFP reports.

According to reports, eyewitnesses recalling the harrowing scene revealed that the fire quickly engulfed the train, prompting a quick response from nearby residents and emergency services. “We saved many people. But the fire spread rapidly,” said one rescue worker interviewed by private broadcaster Somoy TV, describing the tireless efforts to rescue passengers from the burning coaches.

In a related development, reports indicate that the passengers were Indian nationals, although further details remain unclear. Police chief Anwar Hussain expressed suspicions that the fire could be an act of “sabotage”, reminiscent of previous incidents of train fires linked to political unrest.

“We suspect that the fire incident was an act of sabotage,” police chief Anwar Hussain told AFP news agency, without giving further details.

It is noteworthy that last month, authorities had blamed the opposition group Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for another deadly train fire. However, the BNP has vehemently denied any involvement, and alleged that such allegations serve as a pretext for a government crackdown on dissenting voices.

Tensions have risen as Bangladesh prepares for national elections on Sunday, with the BNP and several other parties opting to boycott what they call a “sham” electoral process. Government actions, including the arrest of several opposition activists, have further strained relations, raising concerns about the stability and fairness of the upcoming elections.

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