16 killed in poll-bound Bangladesh during opposition protest
Dhaka: Six persons were killed in clashes in Bangladesh today, taking the overall death toll in fresh political violence to 16 as opposition parties extended by 12 hours their nationwide protest to push for the postponement of general elections.
Deadly clashes with police left two opposition activists dead in northwestern Sirajganj while several people, including three paramilitary and police personnel, were injured in clashes in the port city of Chittagong, reports said.
An autorickshaw driver died in Chittagong when his vehicle turned turtle after he was chased by activists of the main opposition BNP and its right-wing ally Jamaat-e-Islami. They also torched another autorickshaw, injuring two persons.
A leader of Awami League and a member of a union council were killed in clashes at Kaliganj on the outskirts of Dhaka.
Earlier in the day, a Jamaat activist died in clashes with security personnel in southwestern Satkhira, where Jamaat workers allegedly hacked to death two Awami League workers yesterday.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies had yesterday launched a 48-hour nationwide blockade of highways, railways and waterways to force the government to put off the polls scheduled for January 5, 2014.
They demanded that the elections should be shelved until the government accepts their demand for the polls to be conducted by a non-party interim set-up.
Violence that erupted after the Election Commission announced the poll schedule on Monday claimed 10 lives.
Opposition supporters went on the rampage, blocking roads and ripping up railway tracks and halting bus and ferry services.
Railway Minister Mujibul Haque today said the state-run service incurred a loss at least Taka 300 million as opposition activists had torched a stationary train, uprooted tracks and caused the derailment of a train. The protest also forced authorities to suspend trains on several routes.
The opposition is spearheading a street campaign for installing a non-party government with an "acceptable person" as its head instead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, saying elections under her would not be "credible".
Hasina and her Awami League party have rejected the demand, describing it as "unconstitutional" and asking the opposition to join the poll-time multi-party set-up.
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