Violence in Bangladesh Worsens

Four Killed in Bus Firebombing as Antigovernment Protesters Try to Disrupt Transport Services

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Onlookers surround the wreckage of a burnt bus allegedly set on fire by Bangladesh Nationalist Party supporters during a blockade in Rangpur on Wednesday. A firebomb attack on the bus killed four people. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

By SYED ZAIN AL-MAHMOOD

DHAKA, Bangladesh—Antigovernment activists in Bangladesh called for intensified street protests after an opposition politician was shot late Tuesday, setting the stage for worsening political violence in the South Asian country.

Four people, including a child, died Wednesday morning when the bus they were riding on was firebombed by opposition supporters attempting to disrupt road, rail and river transport across the country, police said.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former Premier Khaleda Zia, has been locked in a bitter confrontation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League since the government this month banned an opposition rally and confined Ms. Zia inside her office. Since Jan. 5, in support of Ms. Zia, the opposition has used varying tactics to try to prevent people from using public transportation services.

Police say they have rounded up hundreds of opposition activists in what they said was an effort to contain violence, which has claimed at least 15 lives in the last 10 days. The government has denounced the opposition as “militants and terrorists.”

BNP leaders say they have no choice but to take to the street since the government has clamped down on peaceful protest. The prohibited demonstration planned by the BNP was meant to mark the one-year anniversary of a parliamentary election boycotted by the opposition.

On Tuesday evening, gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Reaz Rahman, a former foreign minister and a key aide to Ms. Zia. Mr. Rahman’s family said he was shot four times in the waist and legs near the Westin hotel in the center of Dhaka, the capital.

The assailants fled on motorcycles after the attack, witnesses said. Doctors said Mr. Rahman was in a “serious but stable” condition Wednesday. The police said they were investigating.

In a statement, Ms. Zia blamed government agents for the attack on Mr. Rahman, calling it “an act of cowardice and terror.” The government denied involvement.

The U.S. condemned the attack on Mr. Rahman. “There is no justification for such outrageous and cowardly acts in a democratic Bangladesh,” the State Department said.

Source: WSJ

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