Political violence kills 2 in Bangladesh

Explosion rocked Bangladesh`s capital Dhaka and southeastern Sylhet with the main opposition BNP activists fighting pitched battle.

Last Updated: Dec 18, 2011, 21:45 PM IST

Dhaka: Explosion rocked Bangladesh`s capital
Dhaka and southeastern Sylhet with the main opposition BNP
activists fighting pitched battle with police leading to the
death of two people, as the country marked the 40th
anniversary of its independence.

Blast of home-made bombs killed a youth at Dhaka`s
Motijheel business district while the opposition activists
reportedly also set afire five vehicles including a police van
and a passenger bus as they clashed with police at different
points in the capital, reports said.

The violence erupted after baton-wielding police
dispersed hundreds of activists of main opposition Bangladesh
Nationalist Party trying to rally to mark the country`s 40th
independence anniversary.

"The device exploded with a bang apparently killing the
young man immediately and critically injuring another
passerby," a photojournalist who witnessed scene told news agency.

Police said they suspected the victim, 24-year old
Arifuzzaman Arif, himself was carrying the explosives filled
in a tin pot while they detained nearly 280 "unruly activists"
from the city, 77 of them alone from the Motijheel area.

A television channel, however, quoted a younger sister of
the deceased saying that Arif was not involved with any
political party.

The second death was reported from northeastern Sylhet
where a bus passenger was burnt to death when opposition
activists set on fire to two vehicles and vandalised over a
dozen others.

The yet to be identified passenger was burnt to death
instantly as a Sylhet-bound bus from nearby Habiganj was
torched when, his co-passengers, however, managed to get off
immediately.

BNP`s acting secretary general Fakhrul Islam Alamgir told
newsmen that police launched attacks on their activists under
a "previously designed plan" as they were trying to gather at
Engineers Institution premises to join a reception of 1971
Liberation war veterans.

BNP said their party chief ex-prime minister Khaleda Zia
was scheduled to attend the programme to honour 5,000 1971
freedom fighters.

The reports said the clash erupted in the morning when
one of the processions of the opposition activists was
intercepted by police at Naya Paltan area.

The reports said the violence quickly spread across the
city with police in riot gears including tear gas canisters,
rubbers bullets and water canons chasing the protestors and
clouding the areas with thick smocks emitting from teargas
canisters.

The violence came as BNP and its right wing ally
fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami was waging an anti-government
campaign after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s ruling Awami
Lesague scrapped the interim caretaker government system for
election oversight in line with a Supreme Court verdict
earlier this year.

PTI