At least 17 people have been killed in election-related violence in Bangladesh Sunday, according to police, as Sheikh Hasina was heading for a landslide win for a third term as the country's prime minister.
Early election results showed incumbent Prime Minister Hasina's Awami League racing toward a clear lead. But opponents have criticized reports of voter intimidation and "irregularities" in the election.
Opposition alliance leader Kamal Hossain called Sunday's election "farcical" and said the outcome will be rejected.
Violence between the ruling and opposition parties which marred the election campaigns carried on into election day, despite heavy security throughout the country, including 600,000 troops and other security forces deployed across the country, according to the French Press Agency.
Thirteen people were killed in clashes between opposing party supporters, and three men were shot by police who said they were protecting polling stations, according to police. An auxiliary police member was also killed by armed opposition activists, according to the French Press Agency.
Voter turnout in the country of 165 million people was low in the first fully competitive general election in a decade.
"I believe the people of Bangladesh will vote for the boat (Awami League symbol) and will give us another opportunity to serve them so that we can maintain our upward trend of development, and take Bangladesh forward as a developing country," Hasina said Sunday.
Hasina's main rival, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, the leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, is in prison on corruption charges and a court has banned her from running.
In Zia's absence, opposition parties have formed a coalition led by Hossain, an 82-year-old Oxford-educated lawyer and former member of Hasina's Awami League party.
"I told everybody over the phone that, besides sending me the complaints, let the returning officers, and their superiors and newspapers know about everything that you all are witnessing. Besides talking to you, we are going to collect the complaints and share them with both the government and election commission," Hossain said.
Mobile internet was blocked and the streets of the capital, Dhaka were largely deserted as many had left to vote in their home towns.
Others were seen trickling into polling booths, where posters bearing the ruling Awami League's "boat" symbol far outnumbered those of the opposition.