Since independence in 1971, the South Asian nation has undergone several military coups.
|Police clashed with demonstrators, who smashed vehicles and set fire to a bus [Reuters]|
Police in Bangladesh fired tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators trying to prevent authorities from evicting the leader of the opposition from the house where she has lived for 40 years.
At least 50 people were injured on Saturday, and more than 20 demonstrators detained in the capital Dhaka, police said.
Witnesses and security officials said up to 4,000 protesters armed with sticks and stones set fire to vehicles and attacked officers near the headquarters of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
Several thousand protesters skirmished with police close to Khaleda’s residence in the garrison area, and the clashes intensified as security forces cordoned off the building as a High Court deadline for her to vacate the house neared.
Khaleda later told a news conference she had been forcibly evicted from the house where she had lived for 40 years.
“They entered my bedroom and ransacked all the furniture. They even beat my personal staff,” said a
tearful Khaleda, speaking at her party office at Gulshan.
“I am not only humiliated but ashamed at the behaviour of the government. Now I seek justice from the people,” she added.
Violence erupted in more than 20 other towns and dozens of people were injured in clashes with police. Around 50 people were injured in Serajganj, 150 km northwest of Dhaka, local television channels reported.
At least three people were killed and five, including a lawmaker of the ruling party, injured in a possible suicide attack on Saturday, police said.
According to authorities, the bomb was detonated at the residence of Afaz Uddin, an Awami League member of parliament, near Khustia, 300 km west of the capital Dhaka. Authorities would not say whether they thought the attack was related to the widespread violence over Khaleda’s eviction.
The situation remained tense as the BNP called for a one-day strike.
“To protest the (eviction) order we have called for a countrywide dawn to dusk general strike on Sunday,” Khondaker Delwar Hossain, secretary general of the BNP, told journalists. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry asked the BNP to call off the strike.
Khaleda’s residence in a sprawling compound was leased to her by the government in 1982, after her husband and ex-president, General Ziaur Rahman, was killed in an abortive coup. They had lived in the house for several years.
The current government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cancelled the lease last year, intending to put up multi-storey buildings for families of army officers killed in a mutiny in a paramilitary unit headquarters in Dhaka.
Hasina was elected for the first time in 1996 and again in 2008 in an election held under an army-backed interim government.