Anti-government protesters firebombed a bus full of sleeping passengers in eastern Bangladesh on Tuesday, killing seven in spiralling political unrest aimed at toppling Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Several passengers were also critically injured in the attack in Chuddogram town blamed on activists from the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by two-time former premier Khaleda Zia.

The deaths brought the number of people killed in the month-long protests to 53 — most of them victims of firebomb attacks on buses and lorries — as opposition activists try to enforce a transport blockade.

“Seven passengers were burnt to death in the bus after the petrol bomb was thrown at 4am (2000 GMT Monday),” district police chief Tuttul Chakrabarty told AFP by phone.

“Five of the passengers are fighting for their life as 40-80 percent of their bodies were burnt. They have been shifted to a hospital in the capital,” he said.

Authorities have stepped up the pressure on 69-year-old Zia, who has been holed up in her office since January 3, in a bid to halt the violence.

Police block a street leading to the home of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, in Dhaka, on January 5, 2015

Zia called the protests early last month, urging supporters to enforce a nationwide blockade of roads, railways and waterways to force Hasina to call a fresh election.

The BNP and its allies boycotted the last poll in January 2014 on the grounds that they believed the result would be rigged.

Authorities on Monday ordered a probe into allegations of murder against Zia over the deadly protests, while one of her closest aides, a media magnate, was arrested.

ALSO READ  Armenian forces blow up Azerbaijani military vehicle: video

– ‘People burning in bus’ –

Survivors of Tuesday’s attack said the bus was packed with local tourists returning overnight from the resort town of Cox’s Bazaar to the capital Dhaka.

Activists run past burning objects on a road close to the home of opposition leader Khaleda Zia, in Dhaka, on January 5, 2015

“I woke up hearing loud cries and saw people burning in the bus. I jumped through the window and found a friend in flames. I doused the fire but his condition is critical,” one survivor told private Ekattur TV.

Up to 15 people were also slightly injured after they jumped from the vehicle’s windows, trying to escape the blaze, the police chief added.

Police inspector Mahfuzur Rahman told AFP authorities suspected BNP activists were behind the petrol bomb. Raids were carried out on local villages near the location of the attack, but no arrests were made.

In another attack on Tuesday, four people suffered burn injuries after a petrol bomb was thrown at a moving train outside Dhaka, police said.

Hundreds of people have been injured since the protests started, while local media say more than 850 vehicles have been torched or damaged and inter-city transport services have ground to a halt.

Security forces have launched a nationwide crackdown — but the arrest of more than 10,000 opposition supporters appears to have done little to quell the unrest.

Zia denies her BNP and its Islamist allies are responsible for the firebombings and have demanded the release of opposition officials and leaders detained over the violence.

ALSO READ  Azerbaijani forces advance in key city despite suffering heavy losses overnight

Hasina has accused her bitter rival Zia of trying to trigger “anarchy”, and authorities ordered the probe on Monday against the opposition leader into allegations of murder made by a pro-government activist.

Zia was charged last week over lesser crimes of “abetting” and “instigating” the firebombings.

Police also arrested on Monday one of Zia’s key aides, Mosaddek Ali Falu, the owner of the country’s leading television station, over an arson attack in central Dhaka.

Western countries including the EU, the impoverished nation’s biggest export destination, has urged Hasina’s government and the opposition to hold talks to resolve the crisis.



Share this article:

Notice: All comments represent the view of the commenter and not necessarily the views of AMN.

All comments that are not spam or wholly inappropriate are approved, we do not sort out opinions or points of view that are different from ours.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely guidelines to aid the human judgment of our community and keep this a clean and well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.