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Blast, arson mark opposition strike in Bangladesh

First published: March 18, 2013, 8:51 PM IST | Updated: March 18, 2013
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Blast, arson mark opposition strike in Bangladesh
The opposition has called the 48-hour strike to mount pressure on the government to secure release of their 154 leaders detained last week.

Dhaka: Several buses were set afire and crude bombs exploded as Bangladesh's main opposition BNP and its right-wing allies enforced a two-day nationwide strike from Monday for the release of their detained leaders and cadres. Capital Dhaka and several other cities witnessed sporadic violence during the anti-government protests but no casualty was reported.

Paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) troops were deployed to enforce a security vigil in the capital along with regular police and elite anti-crime rapid Action Battalion (RAB), but the opposition activists attacked vehicles.

Witnesses said, Bangladesh Nationalist Party activists attacked and set afire several buses to enforce the shutdown. The opposition has called the 48-hour strike to mount pressure on the government to secure release of their 154 leaders and activists detained last week when police swooped into the BNP office and seized several crude bombs after a brief clash.

On March 11, police also arrested BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam and freed him along with two other party stalwarts next day, but they charged 154 others with attacking police and exploding crude bombs. BNP had been waging a campaign over electoral system demanding restoration of a caretaker government for election oversight as the national election was due next year, but the ongoing 1971 war crimes trial of Jamaat-e-Islami stalwarts has shifted the focus.

However, after an initial dilemma BNP eventually joined its ally calling the trial a witch-hunt as two of its own leaders out of the 12 accused were also put to trial on charges of "crimes against humanity" siding with Pakistani troops during the Bangladesh liberation war.

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