Leaders of the ruling Awami League and its associated bodies won the chairman posts in most of the upazilas in the first phase of the 6th Upazila Parishad elections held on Wednesday amid low turnout and boycott by most opposition parties. The turnout was 36.2 percent, according to the Election Commission. Khetlal upazila in Jaipurhat district had the highest voter turnout of 73.16 percent, while Mirsarai in Chattogram had the lowest 17.17 percent turnout.

At least 105 AL and its affiliated candidates or relatives of lawmakers won in the first phase, when voting was held in 139 upazilas. BNP leaders have won in eight upazilas. BNP suspended the party leaders who contested the election as it boycotted the voting like in the January 7 general election. The JP candidate won in Chilmari, Kurigram. A suspended leader of Islami Andolon Bangladesh won in Ramgait, Lakshmipur. Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti leaders won in Rangamati Sadar and Barkal.

At least 74 individuals, including 35 farmers, were killed by lightning strikes across the country since the start of April, according to a report by the research cell of the Save the Society and Thunderstorm Awareness Forum published on Thursday. The report said that at least 31 people were killed by lightning strikes in April, of whom 20 were male and 11 were female. It also said that at least 43 people were killed by lightning from May 1 to May 8. Of them, 34 were male and nine were female.

Rashim Molla, general secretary of the SSTF, urged the government to build shelters in the fields to save farmers from lightning strikes and conduct a lightning awareness programme. Bashar said that they identified two reasons behind the increase in lightning strikes- the increasing impact of global warming, and cutting down trees in rural areas of Bangladesh. SSTF reiterated people have to take shelter in houses or establishments.

A total of 48,586 personal mobile financial service accounts have been suspended by the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) for suspected involvement in online gambling, betting, and hundi. This was informed by the State Minister for Finance, Waseqa Ayesha Khan, in parliament yesterday as she read out a statement on behalf of Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, who was absent.

A total of 5,029 mobile financial service (MFS) agents were terminated for their alleged involvement in hundi transactions. Besides, the minister also said as per BFIU's instruction, transactions of 10,666 MFS agent accounts have been blocked for suspected involvement in illegal hundi, gaming, betting, and cryptocurrency. The unit has identified over 2,000 websites, apps, and social media pages and flagged them to the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission for necessary action.

Bangladesh is going to seek more than 36 billion yuan, equivalent to $5 billion, as soft loans from China to reduce pressure on its dollar reserves. It will use the money to help businesses import raw materials and also for budget support. Bangladesh exported goods worth $677 million to China and imported goods worth $22.90 billion in fiscal 2022-23, according to data from the Commerce Ministry.

Sources in the finance and commerce ministries said the Prime Minister's Office has already given negotiators the go-ahead to arrange the loans. Unlike existing Chinese loans in the portfolio, here the government wants to secure long-term loans, with the interest rate not above 1 percent. They are also discussing how and where the money would be spent. China is Bangladesh's single largest trading partner. In September 2022, Bangladesh Bank allowed settlement of international trade in Chinese yuan to cut excessive dependence on the dollar.

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