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Ruling party wins violence-marred election

BANGLADESH'S ruling party has won one of the most violent elections in the country's history, marred by street fighting, low turnout and a boycott by the opposition which made the result a foregone conclusion.

Although a win by the ruling Awami League was never in doubt, the chaos surrounding the poll plunges Bangladesh deeper into turmoil and economic stagnation, and could lead to more violence in the impoverished nation of 160 million.

Fresh clashes stemming from the election killed three people in Dohar, outside the capital, yesterday. At least 18 people were killed on Sunday as police fired at protesters and opposition activists torched more than 100 polling stations.

The Awami League won 232 of the 300 elected seats, the Election Commission said, far more than 151 required to form a government. Because of the opposition boycott, about half the seats were uncontested, allowing the Awami League to rack up many victories.

Political feuding in the South Asian nation can be traced back decades, as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia vie for power. The country has been ruled by either of the women - both from powerful political families - for nearly 22 years.

The opposition has demanded Ms Hasina's government resign so a neutral administration can oversee the polls and warned she might rig the election, a claim she denies.

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