DHAKA - Thousands of protesters firebombed polling stations and stole ballot papers as deadly violence flared across Bangladesh Sunday during a walkover election boycotted by the opposition.
Police said at least 11 people had been killed since late Saturday and more than 200 polling stations were set on fire or trashed by mobs in a bid by the opposition to wreck the one-sided contest.
Two of those killed were beaten to death while guarding polling stations in northern districts which bore the brunt of the violence and are regarded as opposition strongholds.
"We've seen thousands of protestors attack polling booths and our personnel at a number of locations with Molotov cocktails and petrol bombs," Syed Abu Sayem, police chief of the northern Bogra district, told AFP.
"The situation is extremely volatile," he added after describing how thousands of ballot papers had been ceremoniously set on fire.
Most of the other victims were opposition activists who were shot by police, while a driver died of his injuries from a Molotov cocktail attack on his truck.
"We were forced to open fire after thousands of them attacked us with guns and small bombs," said Mokbul Hossain, police chief in the northern Parbatipur town.
"It was a coordinated attack. They managed to seize some ballot papers and they were also trying to steal our weapons."
In the capital, police confirmed at least two petrol bomb attacks on Dhaka polling stations.
Tens of thousands of troops were deployed across the country after around 150 people had been killed in the build-up, but they failed to stem the bloodshed.