Dhaka: Over 20 passengers were injured Tuesday when seven coaches of an inter-city train derailed as suspected Islamists uprooted railway tracks in Bangladesh during a nationwide general strike aimed at thwarting ongoing trial of top Jamat-e-Islami leaders for 1971 war crimes.
Officials said seven coaches of the train were derailed near the eastern Comilla city, hours after it left Dhaka for southeastern port city of Chittagong.
Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led opposition alliance with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being the major partner called the hartal simultaneously.
"Train link between Dhaka and Chittagong has been suspended temporarily as works are underway to reinstall the tracks... None of the passengers were critically injured," a railway spokesman said.
He blamed the derailment on sabotage, saying the saboteurs appeared to have removed the fishplates of the track overnight and the engine and the seven coaches slipped of the line as the train reached the scene in the morning.
Railway services were traditionally kept out of the strikes but the state-run service suffered attacks in the past two months when Jamaat-e-Islami and its student affiliate Islami Chhatra Shibir set on fire trains or uprooted tracks during strikes to mount pressures on the government to stop their stalwarts` trial for 1971 "crimes against humanity".
Meanwhile, the shutdown call appeared to have drawn a lukewarm response in the capital where buses and other public transports plied in huge number though the rightwing activists exploded bombs, chased and torched several vehicles.
The schools and shopping malls, however, were closed while police and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion troops enforced a sharp vigil patrolling the city streets.
The strike came a day after Shibir president Delwar Hossain was arrested for alleged involvement in recent violence and attacks on police.