Wave of arrests in government response to opposition strike in Bangladesh

DHAKA: Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday launched a fresh wave of arrests amid a two-day nationwide dawn-to-dusk strike by the opposition demanding a neutral caretaker government ahead of a national election.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, and allies on Sunday started the strike, rejecting an election schedule announced by authorities for the Jan. 7 polls.

At least 11 vehicles, including a commuter train, were set alight since the unrest began Saturday evening, the fire service department said on Sunday. Five of vehicles in the capital Dhaka were damaged in arson attacks.

A local opposition leader was hacked to death in northern Naogaon district on Saturday night, bringing the toll of political killings to 14 since the turmoil erupted on Oct. 28, the BNP said.

A police officer and a journalist were also killed on Oct. 28.

The BNP claimed that over 16,000 opposition leaders and activists have been arrested since Oct. 28, including over 310 ahead of the latest strike.

As many as 235 platoons of paramilitary Bangladesh Border Guard members were deployed across the country during opposition protests, along with 460 elite RAB forces and additional police.

Separately, the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami party lost its registration as a political party ahead of the national election.

An Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on Sunday upheld a 2013 High Court verdict that cancelled Jamaat’s registration with the election commission, calling it unconstitutional.



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