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New anti-government strike hits Bangladesh

Opposition activists have detonated small homemade bombs and set fire to several vehicles in capital Dhaka.

Last Modified: 02 Apr 2013 14:50
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Bangladesh has been hit by a series of strikes and deadly street protests recently [EPA]

Opposition activists have detonated small homemade bombs and set fire to several vehicles in the latest anti-government protest to hit Bangladesh's capital, according to police.

Police officials said at least 30 people were injured in the latest violence on Tuesday. No one was reported killed.

Bangladesh's main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its 17 allies staged the protest to enforce a nationwide strike.

The protesters are pressing for the release of more than 150 opposition members arrested during earlier anti-government protests.

The opposition alliance led by former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh, Islami Chhatra Shibir are staging protests to express their ire over the detention of its president, Delwar Hussen.

The protesting opposition demanded the release of leaders and activists detained in a recent police raid on its headquarters.

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In order to avoid any untoward incident, police stepped up security and shops and business establishments remained closed.

Hundreds of activists in Bogra town, 220km north of the capital, Dhaka disrupted railway services as they set the tracks on fire and shouted anti-government slogans.

Bogra is a political stronghold of Zia, head of the main opposition BNP and arch rival of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera's undercover reporters have reported that a train from Chittagong to the capital Dhaka has derailed injuring 20 people.

Railway officials were quoted as saying that they are suspecting a sabotage.  

Calling a general strike is a common opposition tactic in Bangladesh to highlight demands, and the country has been hit by a series of strikes and street protests recently that have left at least 70 people dead.

Protests and counter-protests

Bangladesh has been rocked by protests and counter-protests since January, when a tribunal set up by the government to investigate abuses during the war of independence against Pakistan handed down its first conviction, sentencing a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in absentia to death.

Jamaat-e-Islami opposed Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan in the 1971 war. The authorities have accused several of its leaders of committing atrocities including rape and murder during the conflict, which the party denies.

Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to investigate abuses during the war, in which Bangladeshi authorities say about three million civilians were killed. Thousands of women were raped.

The two opposition parties say the prime minister is using the tribunal to persecute them. The government denied that and said justice must be served.

The tribunal has been criticised by rights groups for failing to adhere to international standards. Human Rights Watch said lawyers, witnesses and investigators reported they had been threatened.

Bangladesh became part of Pakistan at the end of British colonial rule in 1947. The country, then known as East Pakistan, won independence with India's help in December 1971 following a nine-month war against the rest of Pakistan.

Some factions in Bangladesh opposed the break with Pakistan, including the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The overwhelmingly Muslim south Asian country of 160 million people is likely see more violence in the run-up to parliamentary elections in January, in which both Hasina and Khaleda will again compete for power.

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Source:
Al Jazeera And Agencies
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