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2 more dead in Bangladesh unrest, toll rises to 34


Dhaka: Two more people, including a child, have been killed in fresh violence in Bangladesh pushing the death toll to 34, as anti-government protesters targeted several vehicles with petrol bombs in one of the worst attacks since the political unrest began earlier this month.

At least 40 people were injured, some critically, after protesters threw petrol bombs on a number of vehicles last night in Dhaka and surrounding districts, police said.

Last night’s attack is considered to be one of the worst clandestine arson attacks since the political unrest gripped Bangladesh earlier this month while doctors described the wounds of nine of them “critical”.

“The respiratory system of nine of the bus passengers were badly damaged in the arson attack. Their condition is more critical than the others,” a doctor at the burn unit of the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) told the TV channels.

Witnesses said two youths simultaneously hurled two petrol bombs on the bus at Dhaka’s Jatrabari area as it was heading towards suburban Narayanganj last night and quickly fled the scene.

“The fire spread instantly and everyone was frantically trying to get out of the bus,” a witness said.

Another 11 people were wounded in nearly identical petrol bomb attacks on a bus and a truck in northwestern Rajshahi and Bogra late yesterday.

At least 34 people were killed, nearly half of them in arson attacks on buses and trucks since January 6, while the last two of the victims, a child and a truck driver succumbed to their burn wounds yesterday.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) called a nationwide non-stop blockade from January 6, after authorities barred its chief former prime minister Khaleda Zia from joining a protest rally to mark the first anniversary of the last year’s divisive January 5 elections.

Zia was virtually confined at her residence for the subsequent two weeks with police laying a siege around her office but despite the police withdrawal, BNP preferred to continue with the blockade demanding immediate talks with the government for an inclusive midterm polls.

BNP had boycotted the polls over its dispute with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League on the issue of poll time government system.

The government earlier rejected demands for fresh polls with Hasina asking her archival to reorganise her party for the scheduled 2019 elections.

“Attackers are killing people in the name of political programmes. The government has decided to stop it at any cost,” senior leader of ruling Awami League and industries minister Amir Hossain Amu said.

Three alleged arsonists, however, were shot dead in the past one week with law enforcement agencies claiming they all were killed in shootouts with police or other security forces.

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