Millennium Post

Bangladesh protests continue unabated, death toll mounts

Bangladesh protests continue unabated, death toll mounts
Anti-government protesters in Bangladesh targeted policemen with petrol bombs in the capital Dhaka and attacked public transport buses elsewhere, as the death toll in the ongoing political unrest rose to 27 on Sunday.

Six policemen were injured when supporters of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) attacked their vehicle here overnight while they were returning to barracks, police said. The attack on police came after law enforcement agencies warned of tougher actions against arsonists as the toll in violence continued to grow, sparking concerns among foreign diplomats and international community.

Witnesses said a petrol bomb broke the windshield and hit the driver of the police truck which was carrying some 40 policemen to the main Razarbagh barracks here.

They said the truck immediately turned turtle as the panicked driver lost control of the wheels and the vehicle caught fire while the activists fled the scene.

“It (the attack on police) is clearly an act of blockade of activists. We will bring to book not just the attackers alone but also those who are giving them orders,” Dhaka police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told reporters here.

Shortly after the attack on the police truck, the rioters threw two petrol bombs on a bus injuring nine people, six of them being members of two families.

One person was found dead inside another truck, becoming the 27th victim of the fresh round of violence in the country.

“We found him (truck helper) dead inside the burnt truck which plunged into a roadside ditch after being attacked on the Dhaka-Barisal Highway,” Barisal’s police chief AKM Ehsanullah said.

Doctors of the burn unit of Dhaka Medical College Hospital said the respiratory system of a 78-year-old victim was damaged while the conditions of three others were critical.

The suspected activists last night threw a crude bomb on a cycle rickshaw injuring the rickshaw puller and a passenger at Azimpur area in the capital while another rickshaw puller was burnt when miscreants hurled a petrol bomb in southeastern port city of Chittagong on Saturday night.

The blockade entered 13th day on Sunday, crippling businesses and suspending inter-district bus services.

Defying the blockade, thousands of people on Sunday thronged the outskirts of the capital to join the concluding prayers of the second phase of Biswa Ijtema, said to be the second largest Muslim congregation after Haj.

The unrest began coinciding with the first anniversary of the controversial January 5, 2014 polls, boycotted by the BNP.

Since the polls boycott, BNP was in virtually disarray until this month but it called the nationwide non-stop transport blockade after police laid a siege around party chief Khaleda Zia’s office to bar her from a joining a public rally on January 5, slapping a temporary ban on the meeting.

Since then Zia was “confined” at her Gulshan office though the government said the extra security in front of her office was meant for her own security and that she was free to go home with “police escorts”. The United States, Britain and the European Union earlier had sharply protested on the current spate of violence.


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