A major accident was averted on Tuesday in Bangladesh when a train carrying 300 passengers was stopped by the driver just 200 yards ahead of a bridge where the hooks that bind railway tracks with sleepers were removed by suspected saboteurs in northern Netrokona district, officials said.
Railway officials said 28 dog spikes on 14 sleepers were removed, an incident they believed could be linked to a series of train sabotages ahead of the January 7 general elections, being boycotted by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
“The train with 300 passengers on board narrowly escaped the accident as the locomotive master managed to halt just 200 yards away from the bridge,” a railway official told reporters at the scene in the Purbadhala area of northern Netrokona district.
According to officials, para-police personnel detected that the hooks that bind railway tracks with sleepers were removed on the rail bridge and the message was relayed to the train’s locomotive master through managers of two nearby train stations.
“It appears to be a serious attempt to cause significant sabotage,” administrative chief of Purbodhala sub-district Khabirul Ahsan said, adding that steps were underway to launch an investigation to track down the culprits.
On December 19, saboteurs set a train ablaze killing four people, among them a mother and child, amid an opposition called countrywide strike to press its demand for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to resign ahead of the general elections.
One passenger was killed and dozens wounded as saboteurs uprooted railway tracks when seven carriages derailed in Gazipur on the outskirts of the capital in early December.
Bangladesh has deployed armed forces to keep an extra vigil on railway tracks nationwide.
According to Human Rights Watch, political violence has killed at least 16 people, including two police officers, and injured thousands more in the past three months, when dozens of vehicles including buses and trucks were set on fire.
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