No respite from violence

BNP, allies call 36-hour hartal from today

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Five more people suffered burns as miscreants hurled petrol bombs at transports and ferries in different districts on Saturday, the 19th day of the nonstop blockade enforced by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance, that so far left 36 people dead, most of them in arson attacks, and scores injured. The alliance has called a 36-hour countrywide general strike for today and Monday coupled with the blockade in protest at the government’s plan to increase power prices, ‘conspiratorial acts of sabotage’ and ‘the arrest of 10,000 leaders and activists of the BNP-led coalition’. Five more people suffered burns in arson attacks on vehicles in districts on Friday night and Saturday. Ferries also came under petrol bomb attacks in the capital’s Sadarghat terminal and Jhalakati. Scattered incidents of violence were reported from Narayanganj, Jamalpur, Feni, Bogra, Noakhali, Chandpur, Jhalakati and several other districts. The major medical college hospitals, including Dhaka and Rajshahi medical college hospitals, were struggling to cope with a growing number of arson victims. In Narayanganj, locals captured three suspected arsonists and gave them a mob beating before they were rescued by the police. They allegedly hurled a petrol bomb at a bus in Fatullah on Saturday afternoon. A group of some 10 arsonists attempted to attack the bus on Dhaka-Narayanganj highway around 1:00pm, said Manzur Quader, officer-in-charge of Narayanganj Sadar model police station. Locals captured and beat up Mahmud, 25, Shihab, 19, and Sayeed, 35, when the miscreants were fleeing the spot after the attack, said the police. Five petrol bombs and gunpowder were seized from their possession. In the capital, life was as usual as no major incidents of violence were reported. There was no disruption of traffic in city and other divisional cities on the day. Police arrested Selim Bhuiyan, leader of a pro-BNP professional group, during the blockade. Jatrabari police officer-in-charge Abani Shankar did not disclose the charges against Selim Bhuiyan, chairman of Shikkhak-Karmachari Oikya Jote, on Saturday. Suspected blockaders set fire to the ferry, MV Tipu-6 as it was about leave Sadarghat ferry terminal around 5:55pm for Pirojpur, said Abdul Halim, a deputy assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence. The fire burnt nine cabins of the three-storey ferry leaving a passenger injured. Firemen quickly put out the flames. In the second incident, MV Bangali, which plies Morelganj-Dhaka route, came under arson attack in Jhalakati on Saturday afternoon. Gopal Chandra Majumdar, assistant general manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation said that eight cabins were damaged in the attack. Abdul Hai, master of the ferry, said the miscreants had hurled petrol bombs at the vessel when it was crossing Gabkhan bridge in Jhalakati at about 3:30pm. In Jamalpur, Juba League activists marched in a procession at Tamaltala in the afternoon and torched the local office of BNP at Shafi Miar Bazar. In Chandpur, an auto-rickshaw driver suffered burns when miscreants set fire to the vehicle. A truck driver and his assistant were injured as they jumped out of the vehicle to escape an arson attack in Barisal. A truck driver was injured after stones hurled by blockaders struck him in Kishorganj. Incidents of violence were also reported from  Moulvibazar, Dinajpur, Noakhali and Rajshahi and some other districts. Several hundred opposition activists were arrested in different districts on the day.

Source: New Age

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