Kolkata: West Bengal's countryside bled on Monday as seven people were killed and several - including four children - injured in the penultimate round of the panchayat polls. Bomb blasts, firings, violent clashes and allegations of electoral malpractices marred the panchayat polls.

Despite the gory scenes, there were heavy turnouts at the polling booths. An average 74.16 percent exercised their voting right till 5 pm, the scheduled time for balloting to end, said a State Election Commission official.

Three deaths were reported from Murshidabad, two from Birbhum, and one each in Nadia and Malda districts, officials said. Two of the dead were voters, and the others either political activists or criminals, in what is largely being perceived as a triangular contest zone, where besides the ruling Trinamool Congress and main opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front, the Congress also has a strong base.

The violence did not even spare innocent little ones. A five-year-old boy was hospitalized with injuries when bombs were hurled near his house at Dakkhinnagar village under Domkol police station in Murshidabad. Three other children - between four to seven years - were injured in a bomb explosion while playing in the courtyard of the house of a Trinamool candidate at Lalutola village under Kaliachak police station of Malda district.

While the family members claimed bombs were hurled at the house, one of the child victims said they saw some ‘balls’ while playing when they opened the door of the house.

(Agencies)

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