DHAKA (Reuters) - At least a dozen people have been killed in clashes in the past two weeks between supporters of rival candidates in Bangladesh`s rural council elections next month, police and government officials said on Tuesday. Some 200 people have also been injured in campaigning across the country. The elections, beginning on December 1, will be staggered over four weeks in an effort to avert widespread violence. The latest violence occurred on Monday in southwestern Gopalganj district when one campaigner was killed by followers of a rival candidate. Political parties are not allowed to participate directly in the elections to more than 4,330 councils, the lowest tier of local government, but they have apparently fielded their nominees as non-party candidates to strengthen their rural base, officials said. Over 70 percent of Bangladesh`s more than 120 million people live in rural areas. Police said they had been asked by the Home (Interior) Ministry to ensure tight security during the elections since both ruling and opposition parties would take it as a popularity test.