BNP candidate for Noakhali-1 constituency Barrister Mahbub Uddin Khokon and three other party activists reportedly suffered bullet wounds and 36 others were injured in a clash between Awami League and BNP men at Sonaimuri municipality in Noakhali on Saturday afternoon.
Witnesses said BNP leaders and activists, led by Khokon, party joint secretary general and general secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association, were returning after holding a rally at the Sonaimuri High School ground in the afternoon.
When they reached Sonaimur Bazar area, a group of Awami League leaders and activists swooped on them around 4:30pm, leading to a clash.
At one stage, police and the ruling party men opened fire on the BNP leaders and activists, leaving at least 40 people, including four with bullets, injured, the witnesses said.
The injured were taken to Noakhali General Hospital where Dr Syed Ahmed Azim, a residential medical officer of the hospital, confirmed that Khokon sustained bullet wounds, reports UNB.
Sonaimuri upazila BNP president Motahar Hossain Manik claimed that when they reached the Sonaimuri Bazar area after their rally, a group of Awami League leaders and activists swooped on them and opened fire on them. Later, police joined the ruling party men, he alleged.
However, upazila AL general secretary Monirul Islam Baker claimed that BNP men attacked their party leaders and activists without any provocation and vandalised several shops. "There's no attack or firing from our side."
Police superintendent Elias Sharif said a chase and counter-chase took place between the supporters of Awami League and BNP.
He said police fired several shots in the air to bring the situation under control.
The police super also said they were investigating the incident.
Inspector (investigation) of Sonaimuri Police Station Emdadul Haque said a group of BNP leaders and activists, led by Khokon, brought out a procession in the area with sticks after Maghrib prayers.
At one stage, they threw brick chips at police, resorted to vandalism and exploded several crude bombs, he said.
Asked about the bullet injury the BNP candidate received, the police official claimed that there was no firing. "He might have hurt himself by crude bomb splinters," he said.
Meanwhile, BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi at a press conference in the capital claimed that policemen, led by officer-in-charge of Sonaimuri Police Station Abdul Mazid, opened fire on BNP leaders and activists from both sides - front and back - while they were electioneering in Sonaimuri Bazar area, leaving 30-35 party men, including Khokon, wounded by bullets.
He also claimed that the OC himself shot the BNP candidate in a bid to 'kill' him.
Of the injured, the condition of one, identified as Rubel, is stated to be critical, Rizvi said, adding that Sonaimuri municipality JCD vice-president Raju got his legs fractured in the attack.