Dhaka: Businesses and schools were closed in Dhaka on Sunday as opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led 18 parties alliance enforced a country-wide strike, demanding the government to find one of their leaders who went missing this week.
"The dawn to dusk countrywide hartal (general strike) will also be observed tomorrow, as the government could not find out yet BNP organizing secretary Ilias Ali," acting party secretary-general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told reporters.
The day-long strike witnessed clashes between police and activists, while several bombs exploded in different parts of the city. The violence was also reported from several other major cities.
The protestors set on fire several vehicles in Dhaka but no casualty was reported though pre-hartal violence yesterday saw a bus driver burnt to death while asleep inside the parked vehicle torched by suspected opposition activists.
The government has ordered a massive manhunt to find out Ali as he went missing along with his driver Ansar on Tuesday. The opposition said they feared he was a victim of "forced disappearance".
Police found Ali`s abandoned car near his house at the up market Banani area while his wife said her husband along with his driver went missing since Tuesday night.
Elite anticrime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and policemen carried out an "unsuccessful rescue operation" at Pubail in suburban Gazipur last night along with Ali`s wife as she called them on receipt of a tip from an unidentified person familiar to her.
The educational institutions, shopping malls and many private offices were shut as panic griped residents of Dhaka over yesterday`s pre-strike violence when eight vehicles were set on fire.
Hundreds of policemen in riot gears and RAB enforced a sharp vigil.
"It appears that the government waged a war the way the police and RAB men were deployed," BNP`s acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told newsmen early in the morning as he entered the party`s central office.
But State Minister for Home Shamsul Haque Tuku alleged that the BNP did not give time to the government over the incident of disappearance of Ilias Ali as the government was sincerely trying to search out Ali.
"They (BNP) called hartal without giving time for finding out their leader," he told reporters.