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Roundup: Bangladesh burns as blockade continues amid wide spread violence


Roundup: Bangladesh burns as blockade continues amid wide spread violence

DHAKA, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Bangladesh has been burning as the main opposition alliance continued blockade which triggered wide spread violence in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

Dozens of vehicles were smashed or set on fire during the hours of blockade in the country since Thursday when dozens of people sustained serious burn injuries.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Sunday visited Dhaka Medical College Hospital in the city to see burn victims and said the opposition leader resorted to "genocide" in the country, killing mass people in arson attacks.

But ex-Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) blames Hasina's ruling Awami League party(AL) activists for violence.

In a statement BNP blamed AL activists for setting fire to a running bus in the capital city Thursday night, leaving one dead and 18 others injured.

Huge Police and journalists were seen outside the BNP headquarters in Dhaka's downtown Naya Paltan area which wore a deserted look.

No BNP leader or activist was seen outside the office and the building's main entrance had been kept locked since the party's Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed was arrested early Saturday.

Bangladesh Police have filed a murder case against 15 opposition leaders including BNP Acting Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir for Saturday's arson attack on a bus in the capital, which left a man dead and three injured.

Amid fear of violence, traffic on Dhaka streets remained relatively thin as most private vehicles were kept indoors Sunday.

Dhaka remained virtually cut off from the rest of Bangladesh since Saturday morning. Schedule for railways almost collapsed as blockaders allegedly removed fishplates from tracks in many Bangladeshi districts. Some also set fire to rail lines and put barricades on tracks.

Long-distance buses operating between Dhaka and outlying Bangladesh places almost stayed off the roads since Tuesday morning as most transporters preferred to stay home amid fear of violence.

Incidents of clash, arson, vandalism, chase and counter-chase, bomb explosions and detention have been reported across the country.

In protest against the announcement of poll schedule, opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its 17 allies Friday night announced a 72-hour nationwide blockage of road, railway and waterway from Saturday morning.

Despite the opposition's boycott threat, Bangladesh Election Commission announced on Monday that the country's 10th parliamentary election will be held on Jan. 5 next year.

As on the first day of the blockade, which left 4 dead, massive clashes between protesters and police have been reported in parts of capital Dhaka and elsewhere in the country Sunday.

In Dhaka, Police used tear gas and hundreds of rounds of rubber bullets against opposition protesters who reportedly blasted small handbombs. Dozens of people, including policemen, were reportedly injured on Sunday's deadly violence in opposition strongholds outside Dhaka.

Khaleda Zia has asked Hasina to bring back a non-party caretaker system, or else the opposition won't participate in the next election because it fears an election without the non-party caretaker government will not be free and fair.

Earlier, Khaleda's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led opposition alliance observed a 71-hour countrywide blockade which ended Friday morning amid violent clashes, vandalism, arson and bomb explosions.

At least 24 people, including a paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh soldier, were reportedly dead and hundreds others injured in stray incidents of the three-day blockade violence in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country.

European Union has called on the leaders of all political parties to agree on a mutually acceptable formula so as to facilitate the holding of elections which fully reflect the wishes of the people.

"We urge political leaders to refrain from any actions that could spark further violence. The EU remains concerned about intimidation and confrontation in the form of 'hartals' (political strikes) and about the arrest of politicians and human rights defenders, " said Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission.

"Ending violence and finding a political solution through dialogue are essential to allow a peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible election to take place. This can only happen if all sides can agree to move ahead, in the interests of the country's future," she was quoted as saying a in statement issued from Brussels Saturday.